A series of foldable devices purportedly by TCL.

A series of foldable devices purportedly by TCL. CNET

TCL is a name you’d usually associate with low-end Alcatel phones and BlackBerry-branded devices. But the company may be working on foldable devices too, according to CNET.

The outlet obtained renders and patent image filings for several devices (seen in the main image), and the most striking gadget is a foldable phone that turns into a smartwatch of sorts. It may be more cumbersome than your standard smartwatch — the folded design may be less secure and discreet than dedicated wriststraps — and TCL would likely need to heavily modify the Android skin for the watch form factor. But you’d also be getting cellular connectivity and plenty of storage by opting for this solution rather than a traditional smartwatch.

We also see two tablet-sized devices, with one featuring an in-folding screen akin to a book. Meanwhile, the other tablet-sized device folds outwards, much like the Royole Flexpai.

Editor's Pick

The last two foldable devices uncovered by CNET are folding smartphones, with one boasting a clamshell design (with the screen on the inside) while the other folds outwards (with the screen on the outside). The former solution could mean the display would be protected when folded, while the latter design may be more likely to get scratched in a pocket, but could provide always-on functionality.

The outlet also says it saw a rendering for devices with a “Surface Book-like gap in the middle.” This suggests that these particular devices wouldn’t have a proper folding display. In any event, it’s believed these images are preliminary and that TCL could still cancel or change the devices (if it is developing them at all).

A TCL executive previously told the publication that it would launch its first foldable device in 2020. Which folding design would you choose?  Give us your thoughts in the comments!

NEXT: The best Chromebook deals (February 2019)