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Galaxy Fold vs. TCL foldable phone: Price, specs, design compared

Turns out, there are many ways to fold a phone and not all of them are expensive.

Editor's note: Our Galaxy S10 Plus review is now live and our Galaxy S10E review is under way. Keep reading for more about the Galaxy S10, S10 E, S10 Plus and Galaxy S10 5G. And here's more about the Galaxy Fold, Samsung's first foldable phone.

Foldable phone fever is an epidemic sweeping through the Mobile World Congress phone trade show in Barcelona. Last week, Samsung had a mic drop moment when it launched the Galaxy Fold. On Sunday, Huawei had a "hold my beer" moment, announcing the Mate X. And not to be outdone, TCL the company that makes phones under the names Alcatel and BlackBerry, teased several folding phone concepts aimed to be more affordable.

Samsung

When comparing Samsung's foldable phone against the prototypes TCL showed off, there is one large difference: The Galaxy Fold is an actual device that will launch on April 26, while all of TCL's phones are concepts that may or may not lead to an actual device.

The Galaxy Fold heard 'round the world

As much as we know about the Galaxy Fold, Samsung didn't allow reporters hands-on time with the device, which always raises a flag. But the overwhelming hype that surrounds the Galaxy Fold deserves our attention. CNET's reviewer Jessica Dolcourt describes it as the most exciting phone she's seen in years.

It features a folding book design with a narrow 4.6-inch display on the cover and a 7.3-inch tablet-size foldable screen on the inside. The Galaxy Fold has six cameras: three on the back, two inside and one in the cover. The cameras are said to have a similar spec to ones found on the new Galaxy S10.

The Galaxy Fold will sell with AT&T and T-Mobile starting April 26 for $1,980, which converts roughly to £1,500 or AU$2,800. Whether or not the phone lives up to its hype remains to be seen.

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Galaxy Fold specs

Display size, resolution 4.6-inch Super AMOLED; 7.3-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED
Mobile software Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI
Cameras 16-megapixel (ultra-wide-angle), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Front-facing cameras Two 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 3D depth
Processor Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Storage 512GB
RAM 12GB
Expandable storage None
Battery 4,380mAh
Fingerprint sensor Right side of phone
Special features Foldable display, wireless charging, fast charging
Price off-contract (USD) $1,980

TCL shows foldable concepts that could become actual phones... or not

The Chinese company TCL won't release an actual folding device until 2020, but the company showed off a few interesting concepts. TCL did not let journalists have time with its devices, kept them behind glass and discouraged any taking any photos or videos of them -- a lot of red flags here. But to be fair to TCL, these were just prototypes that may or may not lead to an actual device.

tcl-dragon-hinge-foldable-phone-dsc09333

TCL's vision: making foldable phones at a fraction of the price.

Shara Tibken/CNET

What's interesting is how TCL is playing with folding form-factors. In one concept, it takes a similar book-fold approach to the Galaxy Fold but forgoes a second screen in the cover for LED lights. In the configuration shown, TCL uses those lights to show the time. Another interesting feature is the inclusion of magnetic ends to kept the device securely closed.

Then there's a concept that turns a phone into a watch. The prototype shows off TCL's "Dragon Hinge," which seems reminiscent of the slap bracelets from the '90s.

tcl-foldable-bend

This foldable phone concept from TCL intentionally leaves a strip of screen peeking out.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Another prototype shows a tall, narrow phone that folds but not exactly in half. Instead, it folds asymmetrically, leaving a small strip of the display exposed to view data and content. When folded closed, the phone isn't flat and looks like a bulging billfold full of money.

TCL said it hopes to release a foldable phone next year that costs 30 percent less than the Galaxy Fold from Samsung.

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