Leaked TCL Prototype Phone Has a Flexible Sliding Display
Folding phones are the hot new trend in smartphone design, even if they aren’t always as durable or useful as we might hope. They’re still a refreshing change from the endless succession of flat glass slabs we’ve seen in recent years. TCL might be planning to take folding phones to a new place if a leak posted on Cnet is to be believed. This alleged TCL prototype features a slide-out flexible display instead of a folding display.
The unnamed phone looks like any other flat smartphone when closed. However, the frame telescopes out to slide the full panel into view. That roughly doubles your available screen real estate. The report claims this is one continuous OLED panel that folds backward and hides behind the “primary” display when the phone is closed. It sort of boggles the mind to imagine how this would work — a display that can “roll” like that would have to be much more durable than what we’ve seen from Samsung, Huawei, or Motorola.
The leaked render also shows a pair of front-facing cameras in a Samsung-style hole punch. Around back, there’s a bank of four sensors and a flash off to one side. All the components are lined up to avoid the sliding mechanism, which makes the phone look a bit like Huawei’s Mate X foldable from the back. Without a hinge, it may be possible to integrate a single larger battery rather than the two smaller cells present in foldables like the Galaxy Fold and Moto Razr.
It bears repeating that this is only a render, and we’d wager it’s a very optimistic render. It’s hard to see how a device like this could work reliably with current technology when comparatively simple folding phones like the Moto Razr and Galaxy Fold have had major durability issues. Even the Galaxy Z Flip with its ultra-thin glass screen has proven less reliable than we’d hoped.
The report says TCL was planning to have a working prototype of this unnamed slider at Mobile World Congress this month. With the show now canceled, we don’t know when TCL will reveal this bizarre device. The term “prototype” could also be read in several ways. It’s possible this is little more than a tech demo like all the flexible OLED panels we saw at trade shows for years before the first truly foldable phones launched.