Foldable form-factors are one of the biggest new trends in the world of smartphones, with both Huawei and Samsung showing off their first generation foldables at this year’s Mobile World Congress. However, these two tech giants weren’t the only ones giving attendees a glimpse of what the foldable future looks like.
Budget phone brand Alcatel, who are owned by TCL Electronics, also brought several foldable designs to show off to industry members and journalists alike. And even if they wouldn’t let us go hands on with the prototypes, their showcase did provide some insight into how soon they’ll hit the market.
TCL and Alcatel tell us that their “first consumer-ready devices” are “expected to arrive in 2020” and that affordability will be a focus.
They’re not trying to compete with the high-end foldables like the Huawei Mate X and Galaxy Fold. Instead, they’re looking to bring the natural advantages and benefits of the foldable form-factor to customers who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford such luxury devices.
“Together with the support of our sister company, CSOT, we’re showing that TCL can be an innovator and leader in the mobile device market of the future,” said Peter Lee, General Manager, Global Sales and Marketing at TCL Communication.
“When we look at the potential of our flexible device portfolio, we’re obviously very excited about what we’ll be bringing to market down the road. However, we’re not in a race to be the first because we feel it is more responsible to take a patient, thoughtful approach to not only solve hardware challenges, but also work with our partners on software solutions to ensure we deliver a meaningful user experience.”
“When we look at the practical application of flexible display and foldable mobile devices, there are really three challenges that need to be overcome: the flexible AMOLED display itself, a durable mechanical housing, and of course the software that can seamlessly adapt to these new form factors,” said Shane Lee, General Manager, Global Product Center at TCL Communication.
“Through TCL’s vertical integration with CSOT, we have conquered many of the challenges that come with flexible displays; and now with the announcement of DragonHinge, we’re able to show the world how we’ll overcome the mechanical housing challenges that must be solved in order to support these new foldable form factors. We now have a hardware solution to build from, freeing us up to tackle the unique software experiences this new technology enables, and how it all ties in to the larger connected ecosystem as we prepare to launch our first foldable device next year.”
TCL and Alcatel’s first foldable smartphones are expected to arrive in 2020.