TCL Patent Hints at a Foldable Smartphone that Can be Worn as a Smartwatch

TCL foldable phone
Image credit: CNET

As more and more companies are expressing their desire to manufacture foldable phones, 2019 may turn out to be the year of foldable smartphones. While Samsung and Huawei are leading the pack, last week Nubia announced it will launch a foldable phone at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) this month.

Now, it seems Chinese electronics giant TCL is planning on a foldable phone that can you can also wear as a smartwatch on your wrist. The company is working on at least five devices with flexible displays, including two tablets, two smartphones and a flexible phone that could curve into a smartwatch, according to company renderings and patent image filings obtained by CNET.

In the picture above, four of the designs may already look familiar to some, but the fifth looks new; it looks like a foldable smartphone that may also work as a smartwatch.

The first four designs show variations of foldable phone designs. Two looks like tablets that fold in or out while two are tall clamshells that vertically fold in and out as well.

Patent sketch
Image credit: CNET

The fifth design, acquired by CNET shows both unique yet not a completely new design. Instead of folding at a hinge, this phone curves to form a sort of like a bracelet that you can wear on your wrist as a smartwatch. If this trend catches on, traditional smartwatch designs may become obsolete.

Read more Motorola Patent Hints At Solution for Foldable Phone Displays

“The images underscore the industry’s growing interest in foldable devices, which is seen as the next major leap in phone design and a way to get us interested in phones again. People are holding onto their smartphones longer than before, and it’s getting harder to justify a pricey upgrade given the relatively minor tweaks made every year. The hope is that foldables can change that and introduce a new way of interacting with electronics,” says CNET.