Skip to main content

TCL's Fold 'n' Roll concept phone looks equal parts crazy and cool

There's nothing wrong with the tried and true slab form factor we've all grown deeply familiar with over the last decade and some change. Nearly all of the best Android phones these days are some variation of a glass and metal sandwich with a tall, narrow aspect ratio that's both comfortable to hold and spacious enough for today's widescreen videos.

That form factor isn't going away any time soon, but while I love the Pixel 5 that I use every day, I also love more experimental phones like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and even the LG Wing (pouring one out for you, LG). Phones that push the boundaries not just of how powerful a phone can be, but what a phone should be.

Foldables and other types of shapeshifting devices aren't for everyone, at least not yet, but for the right user, they offer incredibly powerful features and tools that simply can't happen on more traditional devices, no matter what processor or camera tech you throw at them. There's power — not to mention style — in folding your phone out to a tablet-like form factor for split-screen multitasking or rotating your top display to reveal a smaller panel that can be used for things like camera controls and texting.

All of this is to say that expandable devices are incredibly exciting. For as refined as the Z Fold 2 was last fall, I can't remember the last time I've wanted to get my hands on a piece of tech as badly as when TCL showed me its new Fold 'n' Roll concept devices in a briefing last week.

The design of this phone is wild. TCL didn't have a working unit to show me, but the mockup model was barely thicker than the company's other newly announced phones, yet folded out into what the company is calling "phablet mode," extending from 6.87 inches to 8.85. That isn't particularly impressive on its own; Samsung and Huawei have been doing this type of design for the last couple of years.

TCL Fold 'n' Roll

Where the Fold 'n' Roll sets itself apart is ... well, with its rolling tech. Once you're in phablet mode, the left half of the device extends out even further to offer a full 10-inch tablet experience. This is the first device I've seen that truly lives up to the promises of a full-sized tablet that fits in your pocket, and I can only imagine how useful this could be, especially when paired with a portable Bluetooth keyboard and stand. But of course, this device has a few hurdles to clear before it can hope to sell in droves.

First off, the device needs to be real. TCL has yet to turn any of its wild concept devices into actual products an average consumer can buy, and while the company says it's on track to release its first commercial flexible device sometime this year, there's no further word on which device that'll be. I'm hopeful it'll be the Fold 'n' Roll, which may need a bit of a rebrand before it goes up for sale, but only time will tell.

I almost wish I'd been able to go to CES this year, just to go hands-on with this concept.

Along with this, I have a lot of questions when it comes to the design. Traits that work in one form factor may not perfectly translate to another; there's certainly appeal to a thin foldable, but when using this device in full-on tablet mode, will making it pocket-friendly make it feel too flimsy, particularly around the rolling portion of the screen?

What about ingress protection? How will TCL protect the screen from harm, since it sits on the outside of the phone, as we've seen before on the original Huawei Mate X?

There's also the matter of pricing and availability. We have no word on when or even if this phone will ever be available for purchase, but all of this experimental tech likely means we'd be looking at a prohibitively high price. With that being said, TCL is typically known to provide great value with its handsets, undercutting the competition while retaining impressive build quality and display tech, so it's anyone's guess what this type of phone could cost.

In all honesty, the Fold 'n' Roll may be the first device that's made me wish CES had been in person this year, as per usual. There's no telling if TCL will ever ship this device, but I would've loved the chance to go hands-on, even if only with a mockup.

Even if we never get to see this particular device in person, TCL is laying out the groundwork for other manufacturers to bounce off of this design concept and potentially develop their own versions further on down the line. I definitely hope we see more devices like this soon, and in the meantime, I'll be pushing to get a review unit of the Fold 'n' Roll. Maybe someday.



Source: androidcentral

Popular posts from this blog

FCC approves broadband 'nutrition labels' to help you shop for internet

The FCC is pushing nutrition labels for internet providers. What you need to know The FCC has voted to move forward with new rules for ISPs to display nutrition labels. The proposed rulemaking would mandate ISPs to display relevant speed and pricing information to consumers. This should make it easier for consumers to make an informed decision on their broadband. The FCC voted unanimously on a plan that would allow consumers to make better decisions about their broadband internet. The proposal will require internet service providers (ISPs) - including many of the best wireless carriers in the U.S. — to display "nutrition labels" that display relevant service information for consumers at point-of-sale. This includes internet speeds, allowances, and clear information on rates. "If you walk into any grocery store and pull boxes of cereal from the shelves, you can easily compare calories and carbohydrates," FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statemen

Yandex spins out self-driving car unit from its Uber JV, invests $150M into newco

Self-driving cars are still many years away from becoming a ubiquitous reality, but today one of the bigger efforts to build and develop them is taking a significant step out as part of its strategy to be at the forefront for when they do. Yandex — the publicly-traded Russian tech giant that started as a search engine but has expanded into a number of other, related areas (similar to US counterpart Google) — today announced that it is spinning out its self-driving car unit from MLU BV — a ride-hailing and food delivery joint venture it operates in partnership with Uber. The move comes amid reports that Yandex and Uber were eyeing up an IPO for MLU  last year. At the time, the JV was estimated to be valued at around $7.7 billion. It’s not clear how those plans will have been impacted in recent months, with COVID-19 putting huge pressure on ride-hailing and food-delivery businesses globally, and IPOs generally down compared to a year ago. In that context, spinning out the unit could

Slack’s new integration deal with AWS could also be about tweaking Microsoft

Slack and Amazon announced a big integration late yesterday afternoon. As part of the deal, Slack will use Amazon Chime for its call feature, while reiterating its commitment to use AWS as its preferred cloud provider to run its infrastructure. At the same time, AWS has agreed to use Slack for internal communications. Make no mistake, this is a big deal as the SaaS communications tool increases its ties with AWS, but this agreement could also be about slighting Microsoft and its rival Teams product by making a deal with a cloud rival. In the past Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has had choice words for Microsoft saying the Redmond technology giant sees his company as an “existential threat.” Whether that’s true or not — Teams is but one piece of a huge technology company — it’s impossible not to look at the deal in this context. Aligning more deeply with AWS sends a message to Microsoft, whose Azure infrastructure services compete with AWS. Butterfield didn’t say that of course

Xbox One S vs. Xbox One X: Which should you buy?

http://bit.ly/2v1agl5 We live and breathe tech, and also gaming, with every member of Windows Central rocking either an Xbox One console or PC gaming rig. We've compared and contrasted every iteration of Xbox One to bring you this guide. Xbox One X Raw 4K power From $299 at Amazon Pros Has thousands of games 4K media apps, Blu-ray discs, and games IR blaster for TV controls, Amazon Echo for voice controls Improved HDD speeds for faster loading times Cons More expensive at around $500 RRP Requires a 4K TV to get the most out of it The Xbox One X is the world's most powerful games console, running the latest games with the crispest, detailed visuals on TV sets with 4K HDR support. Xbox One S More affordable From $226 at Amazon Pros Has thousands of games 4K media apps and Blu-ray IR blaster for TV controls, Amazon Echo for voice controls More affordable at around $300 RRP Cons No 4K games Games run worse, even on a 1080p TV The Xbox One S i