Foldable phone fever is an epidemic sweeping through the Mobile World Congress phone trade show in Barcelona. Last week, Samsung had a mic drop moment when it launched the Galaxy Fold. On Sunday, Huawei had a ‘hold my beer’ moment, announcing the Mate X. And not to be outdone, TCL the company that makes phones under the names Alcatel and BlackBerry, teased several folding phone concepts aimed to be more affordable.
When comparing Samsung’s foldable phone against the prototypes TCL showed off, there is one large difference: The Galaxy Fold is an actual device that will launch on April 26, while all of TCL’s phones are concepts that may or may not lead to an actual device.
As much as we know about the Galaxy Fold, Samsung didn’t allow reporters hands-on time with the device, which always raises a flag. But the overwhelming hype that surrounds the Galaxy Fold deserves our attention. CNET’s reviewer Jessica Dolcourt describes it as the most exciting phone she’s seen in years.
It features a folding book design with a narrow 4.6-inch display on the cover and a 7.3-inch tablet-size foldable screen on the inside. The Galaxy Fold has six cameras: three on the back, two inside and one in the cover. The cameras are said to have a similar spec to ones found on the new Galaxy S10.
The Galaxy Fold will sell with and T-Mobile starting April 26 for $1,980, which converts roughly to £1,500 or AU$2,800. Whether or not the phone lives up to its hype remains to be seen.
|Display size, resolution||4.6-inch Super AMOLED; 7.3-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED|
|Mobile software||Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI|
|Cameras||16-megapixel (ultra-wide-angle), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)|
|Front-facing cameras||Two 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 3D depth|
|Processor||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Fingerprint sensor||Right side of phone|
|Special features||Foldable display, wireless charging, fast charging|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$1,980|
The Chinese company TCL won’t release an actual folding device until 2020, but the company showed off a few interesting concepts. TCL did not let journalists have time with its devices, kept them behind glass and discouraged any taking any photos or videos of them — a lot of red flags here. But to be fair to TCL, these were just prototypes that may or may not lead to an actual device.
What’s interesting is how TCL is playing with folding form-factors. In one concept, it takes a similar book-fold approach to the Galaxy Fold but forgoes a second screen in the cover for LED lights. In the configuration shown, TCL uses those lights to show the time. Another interesting feature is the inclusion of magnetic ends to kept the device securely closed.
Then there’s a concept that turns a phone into a watch. The prototype shows off TCL’s ‘Dragon Hinge,’ which seems reminiscent of the slap bracelets from the ’90s.
Another prototype shows a tall, narrow phone that folds but not exactly in half. Instead, it folds asymmetrically, leaving a small strip of the display exposed to view data and content. When folded closed, the phone isn’t flat and looks like a bulging billfold full of money.
TCL said it hopes to release a foldable phone next year that costs 30 percent less than the Galaxy Fold from Samsung.