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Please god, don’t let this bizarre phone that unfolds accordion-style be our future

October 24th, 2019 at 3:43 PM
Foldable phone

The Chinese electronics brand TCL is an acronym that stands for “The Creative Life,” and the company is nothing if not creative and supremely ambitious when it comes to smartphone design. Case in point is this prototype design for an all-new foldable smartphone that arguably puts Samsung’s Galaxy Fold to shame, in a way, while still managing to look a little ridiculous. When it’s unfolded, but not completely opened up to show off the beast of a 10-inch display, it almost looks like the taco holder that comes with my regular dish at the Mexican restaurant around the corner from my apartment.

Click the video above if you want to see footage of what it’s like to actually hold and operate the darn thing, but I certainly won’t be buying one of these anytime soon.

At IFA 2019 in Berlin last month, TCL was among the companies showing off a variety of technology related to foldable phone design such as its new Butterfly hinge that allows the screen to fold inwards (which this new prototype relies on). TCL, the audience for which tends to be more price-conscious than a Samsung consumer who’s able to pay $1,980 for the Galaxy Fold, may be experimenting with the form factor of foldable phones, even though its representatives are saying publicly the company doesn’t necessarily want to rush this.

Maybe that’s a function of being cognizant of Samsung’s missteps in this area thus far. Nevertheless, TCL chief marketing officer Stefan Streit has told at least one outlet the company wants to “take things step-by-step” when it comes to foldables. The company has a reputation for selling all-around solid-quality TVs, though it’s been showing up to major events like IFA and others this year with foldable phone concepts. The company’s plans along those lines, though, are still at such a nebulous stage that the wild prototype we mentioned above doesn’t have a name or price. Nor a display that actually works or even an idea of when it might be available to buy. Am I just being a fuddy-duddy? Maybe so, but here’s hoping this kind of overly complicated design is not the stuff that future smartphones are made of.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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