TCL Can’t Get its Folding Act Together
TCL announced it will suspend the launch of its first foldable phone for a year. The news comes as a surprise since TCL has touted its flexible display prototypes for years and even made the flexible displays for at least one well-known foldable. Known as Project Chicago, TCL’s first foldable is a gorgeous taupe clamshell with rose gold trim. When closed, it's about the size of a compact and is easy to hold. Open the phone and there’s a 6.67-inch AMOLED display. There’s a small vertical display on the front of the phone that lets you quickly access apps or dual cameras.
TCL’s Chicago foldable was meant to be a midrange alternative to expensive foldables. Its shell is made of textured plastic. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM power the phone. And the 48MP and 16MP cameras are solid but wouldn’t compete with the lenses you’ll find on the Galaxy Z Flip3.
Although TCL did not share pricing details, the Chicago phone would likely have undercut Samsung’s entry-level foldable by a healthy margin. Samsung dominates the foldable market, offers healthy rebates and trade-in schemes, and is available on every carrier. TCL needs broad carrier support and better brand recognition if it wants its first foldable to be successful.
A few years after the company acquired Alcatel in 2004, it announced its plans to retire the brand and replace it with the TCL brand by 2012. Instead, the first TCL-branded phones were scheduled to make a splashy debut at MWC 2020, but the COVID pandemic squashed those plans, and the TCL 10 series announcement was a much more subdued affair.