Electronics company TCL is suspending plans to release a lower-cost foldable phone this year, the company confirmed in an email to The edge. Its foldable flip phone, named Project Chicago, was in development when the company made the decision to put it on indefinite hold. According to TCL, the delay is due in part to rising production costs and supply chain shortages.
“Although the foldable market grows every year, it is still a premium product category,” Stefan Streit, TCL marketing director said in a statement.o The edge. “In combination with recent component shortages, the COVID-19 pandemic, and rising costs of foldable production, TCL has made the difficult decision to suspend the launch of its first commercially available foldable smartphone until the company can produce and market it at a price accessible to the greatest number of consumers.
Streit added that the company is “closely monitoring the market to determine the best time to launch a foldable smartphone.”
The company distributed some sample devices to reviewers (it looks like MrMobile got his hands on a), but said he had no additional devices available, or photos of Chicago to share.
The news comes weeks after the launch of Samsung’s latest foldable devices: the Galaxy z fold 3 and the Galaxy z flip 3 (TCL decided to put its Chicago device on hold ahead of Samsung’s launch) But the two foldable Samsung phones are in the higher price bracket; the Flip 3 costs $ 999 and the Fold 3 is priced at $ 1,799.
TCL showed some foldable prototypes last year, and again earlier this year at CES 2021, as well as a “roll-up” screen design. In April TCL showed a Fold ‘n Roll device that could go from a 6.87 inch phone screen to an 8.85 inch phablet or 10 inch tablet.
The company says it’s not ditching the foldable product category, but has no deadline for when its first foldable device could be commercially available.