A few days ago, CNET reported that China-based TCL was working on concepts for foldable smartphones and tablets, including one phone concept designed to wrap around a person’s wrist. Today, as part of MWC 2019, TCL revealed more information on the technology behind their foldable phones. Specifically, it said that their flexible handsets would use its own DragonHinge technology.
So what is DragonHinge? While the company didn’t get too technical, TCL stated it uses a special mechanical housing designed to fold and bend smartphones and tablets in a variety of ways, and in a manner that should provide “effortless and seamless movement” in those foldable phones. DragonHinge technology will be used in combination with custom flexible AMOLED displays that will be provided by TCL’s sister company, CSOT.
At MWC they had one concept device that changed to a variety of different backgrounds to demonstrate it was working, though it was — of course — behind glass. There were also several other mockup foldables in the glass case, but these were all just dummy units meant to showcase just some of the possible directions TCL might take with foldables.
So when can we expect the first foldables from TCL? All we know for now is “sometime in 2020”.
A representative from TCL told us they were “not in a race to be the first” with a flexible smartphone product. Instead, TCL wants to take its time to get it right, as well as find ways to deal with many of the hardware challenges found in foldable phones. They also want to work with partners to make sure the software in those phones is meaningful to the user as well.
You also have to remember that some of TCL’s biggest brands, such as Alcatel, typically aim for more budget-friendly pricing and while TCL didn’t give us any specific price ranges, they hinted that they’d like to wait until pricing comes down to avoid releasing something that’s so expensive that few can or will buy it.