Best Foldable Screen Tech From CES 2020

Conor Cawley

With foldable screens grabbing the headlines in 2019, CES 2020 was always sure to have a bunch of foldable screen technology on display. And, if the annual Las Vegas trade show is any indication, we're going to start seeing foldable screens on a wider range of devices than just smartphones.

Flexible, bendable, foldable screens – call them what you want, but they're pretty much all anyone can talk about when it comes to tech innovations. Motorola has risen from the dead with news of the revamped Razr, and Samsung has managed to bounce back after one of the worst smartphone launches in recent history with its own foldable device.

Now, at CES 2020, it's clear that further tech companies are hungry to get a piece of that sweet foldable screen mojo, and their concepts for the tech are nothing if not interesting.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold

Get ready ladies and gentlemen: we have our first ever foldable screen PC! This single-screen tablet features a 13.3 inch OLED display that folds right down the middle. Unlike its smartphone counterparts, the X1 Fold can switch orientations with a simple flip, so you can use it like a laptop, or like an open book.

The versatility is truly the selling point for this decidedly expensive device. At $2,499, the X1 Fold is in keeping with the foldable device market to date – far too pricey for the average consumer to consider. Still, that versatility can make it seem almost worth it.

Combined with the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (naturally, sold separately), you'll be able to really mix it up with the X1. The main configurations let you switch between laptop, all-in-one, and entertainment device, seamlessly. Well, so long as the X1 can avoid developing that very visible seam that plagued early samples of the Samsung Galaxy Fold…

Will it get made? Yes. Unlike most of the foldable products on this list, there's no question the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold will be made, as it already has a price ($2,499) and a release date (mid-2020).

TCL's Foldable Phone Concept

So far, the foldable device market has been far too expensive for most to partake. However, budget brand TCL is hoping to change that by applying its trademark affordability to the popular smartphone trend.

Sporting a 7.2-inch display that folds down the middle, the TCL foldable phone concept is a bit slimmer than the Galaxy Fold, but definitely bigger than the new Motorla Razr. It'll also reportedly support 5G, which is going to be key, considering this is a concept design.

It definitely has a few obvious problems right off the bat though, but nothing that can't be reasonably explained. The absence of a front-facing display when it's closed likely signals the (hopefully) lower price tag, and the missing selfie camera can be chocked up to the concept design.

Will it get made? Perhaps this year. Despite presenting a functional device at CES, TCL was adamant that this is a concept device and not what consumers should expect to see at launch. However, given the scores of tech fans itching for an affordable foldable smartphone, it's safe to say TCL has a pretty good chance of entering the foldable smartphone market at some point in the future. Rumors even suggest this concept, or something like it, could be out later this year.

Dell Concept Ori & Duet

Lenovo may be the first to market with a foldable PC, but that isn't stopping other companies from testing the waters with concepts. Dell, for instance, showed off a foldable laptop that's similar to Lenovo's. It also had a dual screen concept that, technically, folds.

The Dell Concept Ori (as in “origami”) features an approximately 13-inch screen that folds down the middle. Truthfully, it looks pretty similar to the X1 Fold, although some at CES 2020 were quick to point out the visible crease.

The Dell Concept Duet, on the other hand, has two separate displays that fold into each other. The 13.4-inch FHD panels make for lots of versatile configurations, and both can be used with a magnetic keyboard for actual typing purposes (no surprise – it's sold separately).

Will it get made? Not imminently. It's unclear whether or not people even want laptops with foldable screens at this point, which makes it hard to say whether these concepts are really going anywhere in the long run. However, you can be sure Dell will be ready to jump on the trend if it does kick off, and these designs are basic enough to be their front-runners.

Intel Horseshoe Bend

Intel Horseshoe Bend

Intel actually partnered with Lenovo on the ThinkPad X1 Fold, which bodes well for the release of its own foldable laptop, a concept device dubbed the “Horseshoe Bend.” This follows an admittedly strange water-based naming convention Intel has used for previous concepts (including Tiger Rapids and Twin Rivers).

This concept device features a whopping 17.3 inch display that folds down the middle, making it easily the largest foldable screen on this list. Size does matter when it comes to this kind of tech, as the larger the screen, the harder it is to fold. Still, Intel's concept could prove impressive if consumers end up needing the extra inches for multitasking purposes.

Intel made no mention of the longevity of the hinge, nor whether or not the added size would affect performance and battery life. Because the device is a concept, we didn't get any specs, so it's safe to simply keep an eye on whether this kind of size is even practical just yet.

Will it get made? With a name like “Horseshoe Bend,” you can bet this exact concept won't see the light of day any time soon. However, if size does end up mattering in the foldable laptop game, Intel is certainly ahead of the game and could definitely end up making this its go-to device.

Royole Mirage Smart Speaker

Finally, a bit of innovation. Rather than a smartphone or a laptop, Royole – the maker of the world's first foldable phone – has announced a smart speaker that features a flexible 8-inch AMOLED touch display that wraps around the body of the device.

It's unclear what the touch display will be used for, be it skipping songs, checking the weather, or experiencing wild visualizers. Still, the cool factor is undeniable. As for the rest of the speaker, Royole says the smart speaker will feature Alexa-compatibility, impressive sound quality, and a 5Mp camera, presumably for video calls.

The price, however, definitely falls into the “dealbreaker” category. At $899, the smart speaker comes in well above the average price of a smart speaker, even those that come with screens. Still, if this ends up setting the scene for more affordable, flexible screen smart speakers down the line, we're on board.

Will it get made? Absolutely! It's actually going to be available in Q2 of 2020 for the hard-to-swallow price of $899.

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Conor is the Senior Writer for Tech.co. For the last four years, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His extensive background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host tech-centric events like Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.

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