In terms of what’s new in the smartphone world right now from companies trying to push the design envelope, foldables are certainly a hot topic of discussion thanks to what Samsung is doing with handsets like the Galaxy Z Flip and its successor to last year’s original Galaxy Fold that will come sometime later this year. Meanwhile, leaked images have been circulating today showing a new expandable, slide-out form factor for a prototype phone that Chinese electronics brand TCL was reportedly planning to show off at this year’s Mobile World Congress, the largest mobile trade show in the world that was set to kick off later this month but which has been scuttled completely as a result of ongoing concerns about the coronavirus.
The leaked images, which you can check out below, come via CNET, and they depict a phone that you pull out from the side to expand into a bigger device. A form factor, of course, that’s distinct from Samsung’s foldables that have a screen you can bend and close shut like a book. Foldables, meet your new rivals for the title of weirdest smartphone form factor yet — expandables.
As you can see below, the prototype is said to have curved screens on both sides, and it looks like you pull out from the right-hand side to expand the surface area of the display:
TCL’s name is an acronym for “The Creative Life,” so it’s perhaps no surprise that TCL seems to be getting even more creative with their smartphone designs. Whether mainstream consumers would ever warm to something like this is another question entirely, but TCL has been increasingly moving in this experimental direction. This TCL phone design we told you about back in October, for example, is a foldable handset that opens up accordion-style.
TCL made an appearance at IFA 2019 the month before that design was shown to present its Butterfly hinge that allows a phone screen to fold inward. Unlike Samsung, however, TCL has an audience that tends to be more price-conscious than the kind of consumer who’s able to spend $1,980 on an experimental foldable handset — meaning these TCL experiments, interesting as they are, aren’t liable to get a big push from the company anytime soon, if you ask me.