You may no longer remember or even consider TCL as a smartphone maker. Once upon a time, the company better known for its TVs did put out rather forgettable handsets in the market. Of late, its name gets mentioned in smartphone news as the actual hands behind the most recent Alcatel and BlackBerry phones. Next year, however, TCL might be back in action with no less than five mobile devices, one of which is a tablet that folds into a smartphone and vice versa.
For the few that have kept tabs on the company, the fact that it’s making a foldable device might not be that new. It has filed for a few patents of its own, one of which may have won as the design for what has been leaked as the TCL Flextab. Considering there are only so many ways you can fold a flat slate, it’s also unsurprising that it looks very, very familiar.
Mobielkopen discovered a patent published in China just last week that would almost be a dead knocker for the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Like it, the TCL Flextab would fold inward to become a phone. Unlike it, however, the gap produced by the so called “DragonHinge” is rather large, at least based on the filing’s renders.
Those images also reveal a triple camera setup on its back while a tiny front camera resides in one of the very thin bezels surrounding the foldable display. The lack of a fingerprint scanner outside hints at an in-display one and, contrary to current trends, it still has a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
While a patent may only signify intent, a leaked roadmap hints that TCL plans to bring that idea to reality before the end of 2020’s second quarter. TCL is no stranger to making phones and display panels but it hasn’t exactly inspired confidence in its ability to innovate in either market. If the TCL Flextab succeeds, then it could serve as a launchpad for TCL brand’s return to the smartphone market. If it bombs, few will probably even remembered it at least tried.