I’ve opened and closed foldable phones hundreds of times by now.
But even after reviewing the Galaxy Fold Foldable (twice), playing with Huawei’s Mate X Foldable Phone and bending slim concept designs, nothing has prepared me for TCL’s prototype dual-hinged phone, which folds in three parts and opens into a huge, 10-inch tablet.
The most remarkable thing about TCL’s phone is that the hinges themselves move in different directions. The DragonHinge fold in, like a book, or like the Galaxy Fold, while the Butterfly Hinge folds the opposite way.
The two hinges create a zigzag shape as you open and close the device, a silhouette in Z. It looks like an accordion. Or a taco holder. And I have to get my greedy hands on it to give it a fold, one panel at a time: Open. Folded over once. Completely folded up into a triple-stacked sandwich so that the exposed panel becomes the TCL phone’s “outer” screen. With this design, a single uninterrupted screen does it all.
As with other foldable phones, the act of folding feels physical and visceral in a way that makes me appreciate the engineering feat of any company attempting to make devices whose screens bend in half.
Foldable phones are the next frontier in phone design, delivering at least double the screen space in a package that’s practical enough to tote around. Unfolded, the large screens promise an expansive display for reading, watching videos, gaming and multitasking.
Folded up, you can use them on the go. Despite very real fears over screen damage that could send lofty foldable ambitions crashing to the ground, device-makers are scrambling to push out their own new designs — to bag reputation points as much as to capture buyers’ attention.
It’s into this mix that TCL is dropping its wild new prototype. Best known for making really good, affordable TVs, TCL is now aligning its phone business under the same brand.
The company has already trotted out concept designs and announced its DragonHinge months before this particular dual-hinge effort. More