New Samsung foldable rival? TCL works on phone that bends into a smartwatch

Samsung could be getting more competition in foldable phones as it gears up to launch its first model.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Yet another variation on the recent trend in foldable phones is a smartphone that bends into a smartwatch. 

The concept is one of five flexible display devices under development at Chinese vendor, TCL, which makes cheap televisions, but also makes phones under its BlackBerry and Alcatel brands. 

According to documents obtained by ZDNet sister site CNET, TCL is working on two tablets, two smartphones, and a phone that wraps around the wrist to become a smartwatch. 

The flexible phone-watch concept is detailed in a patent that shows a long phone with a display that curves backwards to wrap around a wrist. It's not unlike some of Apple's patents for a wraparound watch in the months before it released the first Apple Watch. 

TCL's other foldables include a tablet with a display that folds inwards and one with a display that folds outwards. The two smartphones in the works similarly fold inwards and outwards.     

News of TCL's foldable plans come as Samsung prepares to take the wraps of its first foldable, rumored to be called the Galaxy X. It's expected to reveal the device alongside the Galaxy S10, just ahead of Mobile World Congress later this month. 

SEE: IT pro's guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)

Samsung gave the world a peek at its foldable prototype in November, revealing a 4.5-inch screen that unfolded into a 7.3-inch tablet. Samsung plans to produce one million foldable phones this year using its Infinity Flex technology. 

Motorola may also soon release a $1,500 Razr foldable phone, while Xiaomi could be working on a tablet that bends in two places

Apple also has eye on the foldable market, recently updating an old patent from 2011 for a phone that folds in half for easier carrying. 

While more foldable phones and tablets are expected to launch this year, at the moment the only one that can be bought is Royale's FlexPai, but it costs well over $1,000 for the entry-level unit. Samsung's foldable is also rumored to be very expensive, costing around $2,000


TCL is working on two tablets, two smartphones, and a phone that wraps around the wrist to become a smartwatch.


Previous and related coverage

Motorola Razr classic flip phone returns: This time it's a pricey foldable

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Could this mystery foldable phone with two bends be secret Xiaomi device?

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Samsung 'Galaxy F' foldable: Possible March launch but it won't be cheap

Samsung's first foldable phone will burn a hole in your wallet if reports of its price prove accurate.

Samsung to produce over one million foldable phones

Samsung will make over one million units for its upcoming foldable phone in initial stock and it will be launched within the first half of 2019, the firm's mobile boss says.

Samsung foldable phone: Infinity Flex display specs revealed

Samsung wants its folding phone to have a long battery life.

Samsung to start mass production of foldable Infinity Flex display in the coming months

At the Samsung Developer Conference, the company revealed its new foldable display, teasing what its new foldable device will look like.

Samsung: Our foldable phone will be a tablet that fits in your pocket

Samsung mobile boss DJ Koh is convinced we need a foldable phone.

World's first foldable phone? Royole's 7.8in FlexPai tablet folds into dual-screen phone

The FlexPai is rough around the edges but could be the world's first commercially available foldable tablet-phone.

A business laptop with 3 screens? Microsoft patent filing points at multi-screen folding device TechRepublic

A dual-screen device patent recently filed by Microsoft includes a third screen attached to the devices hinge that can display information in a variety of configurations.

TCL is working on a foldable phone that bends into a smartwatch CNET

It's one of a family of foldable devices in development with the Chinese company, best known for budget televisions.

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