TCL unveiled the Fold ‘n Roll – no, those aren’t two different phones, it’s one device with two different ways to extend the display. It’s a prototype for now, TCL’s first device with a flexible screen will arrive later this year (and probably won’t be this one).
The TCL Fold ‘n Roll is an outward folder (i.e. the screen remains on the outside) and has a rollable mechanism that extends the unfolded screen. The company combined next-gen hinges and mechanics to support both actions.
It starts off with a 6.87” screen, which can unfold to 8.85” (which will make it the largest foldable screen yet). The rollable mechanism extends that to 10”. Importantly, this changes the aspect ratio, which makes it better-suited for multimedia than the typical squarish foldable.
TCL has a vested interest in advanced screen technologies – it’s the parent company of CSOT, a large display maker from China that covers everything from small phone screens to large TV screens. It first started making flexible OLED panels back in Q4 2019.
The company has also reached out to partners to try and figure out a way to use glass to make the screen more durable (it’s outward position makes it more vulnerable). The prototype uses plastic for now.
And this is just a prototype – TCL cautions that it will take some time before 3-in-1 devices like the Fold ‘n Roll arrive in stores. We will see a simpler device with a flexible screen later this year, but the company has not revealed anything about its form factor (foldable and rollable phones both use flexible screens).