Sliding screens might make more sense than folding phones

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TCL prototype phone has a slidable screen
This TCL prototype phone investigates whether a slidable screen would be better than a foldable one.
Photo: Cnet/TCL

TCL reportedly developed a prototype phone with a slidable screen. This would allow a small, easily portable handset to include a 7-inch display.

The design is clearly intended to take on foldable displays, which also allow smaller phones to offer large screens.

Not just a concept

Renders of TCL’s prototype with a slidable screen were leaked to Cnet. And it supposedly exists beyond concept images — this device was allegedly going to be on display at the MWC trade show before it was cancelled by coronavirus fears.

Without that demonstration, there’s no way to know exactly how the slide-out display functions. Is it two screens stacked on top of each other? Is there a single display that’s bending?

Also unknown is TCL’s plan for its design. It’s already working on a 7.2-inch foldable running Android that’s set to debut this year.

Slidable screens or foldable ones

Traditional phones with a single, inflexible screen — like the iPhone — are nearly as large as they can be while staying portable. Hence companies exploring alternatives, like slidable screens or foldable ones.

Samsung has taken an early lead in flexible-screen handsets, but Apple is expected to eventually jump into what’s predicted to be a large market. Whether slide-out screens will become a serious rival is anyone’s guess.