TCL is working on a phone with a rollable and foldable display

Concept image of a TCL phone with both folding and rolling displays
Image credit: CNET

Ever since foldable displays started creeping their way into smartphones, starting with the forgotten Royole FlexPai, we've seen a few wacky concepts in the realm of small displays that transform into bigger ones, be it by rolling or folding.

One of the companies to jump on that bandwagon was TCL, but only in concept. At MWC 2019, the company showed off its concept DragonHinge mechanism for folding displays, and then, last year, we got to see a phone with a tri-fold design, as well as one with a display that unrolls to become bigger. What we haven't seen yet, though, is a phone that does both, but TCL is changing that.

Based on images seen by CNET, the company is working on a phone that can expand into a tablet form factor, but instead of using two folding mechanisms or just a rolling display, it's doing both. A portion of the display folds behind the device, and once it's unfolded, another portion of the display can be rolled out on the other side, increasing the screen real estate even further.

Concept image of a TCL phone with both folding and rolling displays
Image credit: CNET

The concept may be somewhat odd at first, but there are some potential advantages to this approach, Current foldable phones are already very thick, and to have two folding mechanisms on the same device could make it extremely uncomfortable to use or even carry in a pocket. The rolling mechanism may not require as much of an increase in thickness, thus offering a larger display without as much of an inconvenience.

CNET reports that images of the device will be shown off at an event in April, where TCL is also expected to fully unveil the TCL 20 series that was announced at CES 2021. However, it's only a concept. There's no word on when or if such a device will be coming to market from TCL, and given the company's track record with foldables so far, the chances of that happening seem somewhat slim.

At MWC 2019, TCL told Neowin that it wanted to wait until foldable technology has matured to release a device at a reasonable price point, rather than the exorbitant $2,000 commanded by Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 2. Combining two very recent technologies, one of which has yet to be seen in a real phone you can buy, is unlikely to fit that bill right now.

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