Better than foldables? TCL first to launch a phone with slide-out screen
What if flexible displays are not actually meant to be integrated in foldable designs? Might be too early to draw conclusions, but, for now, foldable screens are prone to too many problems, plus they come with that awful crease that kind of ruins the premium look. Of course, display makers will eventually use shape memory materials that can solve the crease problem, but until then, maybe phone makers could look into different designs. Like, for example, the TCL patent for a sliding screen phone discovered by LetsGoDigital in early January. Apparently, TCL was supposed to showcase a working slide-out display prototype at MWC, which was already cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. CNET sources still managed to get their hands on a few renders, and it looks like TCL has improved the sliding mechanism demonstrated in the patent papers.
From what we can see in the leaked renders, the design appears to combine the front screen of the Samsung Galaxy S10+ with the rear camera layout from the Huawei Mate X. However, there is no folding mechanism here. A closer look at the back side reveals that the camera setup block is part of the sliding segment, which is slightly thinner as to be nested within the main segment. Without a proper demonstration, it is not immediately clear how the sliding mechanism operates. It could be automatic, or might require manual activation. Supposedly, the flexible display wraps around the right edge and extends when the right segment slides out. This is quite an elegant solution for a crease-free display, yet it might come with its own specific problems, plus it appears that the phone itself could be a fair bit thicker.
Specs for the slide-out phone are currently unknown. TCL is expected to launch quite a few phones featuring flexible displays this year. Most will feature the foldable approach, but we are more interested to see if the slide-out design exhibits less quirks and proves to be sturdier overall.