Tech company TCL has unveiled a new foldable smartphone prototype designed to change the way foldable smartphones are seen.

Mainstream smartphone giants like Samsung and Huawei are known to have released or upcoming foldable smartphones. The Korean giant has already released the Galaxy Fold, a foldable smartphone that bends inward like a book. The Chinese tech giant, on the other hand, is set to release the Mate X, a smartphone that has two hinges that bend outward towards the back.

While the world is waiting for other big names like Apple to announce a foldable device, or for Microsoft to finally release its Surface Duo device, another tech giant known for making inroads in the consumer electronics scene silently unveiled its ideas for a foldable device.

A new foldable device

TCL, one of the world's fastest-growing TV brand, has released a prototype of a foldable device, CNet reported. The company has designed its foldable phone so that it has two hinges that fold in opposite directions: one of them inward like a book (a la Galaxy Fold), and the other outward (a la Mate X). The device will form a silhouette that looks like a letter “Z.”

The prototype device makes use of TCL's patented DragonHinge and another hinge called the Butterfly hinge to make the design work. The former, which was previously revealed during this year's MWC in Barcelona, folds outward while the latter folds inward.

The device will feature a screen that, when unfolded, spans up to 10 inches wide (measured diagonally). TCL isn't the only company to have thought of using two hinges that open in different directions. LG patented such a design too, but the difference is that TCL uses one huge display and divides it into three, while LG's design makes use of two separate displays.

CNet noted that the prototype only shows how the hinges work. The prototype doesn't have a working display (it has a huge photo in lieu of an active screen) yet. It doesn't even have a name at the moment.

What's known about the device is that it will allow users to use the device like a normal smartphone when folded (albeit taller), and use it like a 10-inch tablet (like an iPad). It has four rear-mounted cameras that can be used whether the device is folded or unfolded, a front-facing camera, and a USB-C port for charging and headphones. Pricing and release date are unknown at the moment.

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