Speaker 1: Building a foldable is hard. Building a good foldable is even harder. TCL almost did it. It had a device nearly ready for sale later this year. But instead of hitting stores, this new foldable got Samsung out of exist. This is the story of project Chicago and how TCL nearly released a device that helped it play in the big leagues. We got our hands on a prototype [00:00:30] to show you what might have been.
Speaker 1: You probably haven't heard of TCL. If you have, you likely know it's affordable TVs. It also makes cheap Al Catel phones and even sold blackberries for a while. It wants to turn TCL into a brand. We all know, but as LG, Sony and countless other companies can attest selling phones in the us. Isn't exactly easy. Most of us end up buying iPhones or Samsung galaxy devices. TCL wanted to win over [00:01:00] Americans with cheap foldable. Over the past two years, it showed reporters all kinds of devices and said it would launch its first product in twenty twenty one, one TCL foldable phone could become a watch. When wrapped around the wrist, a 10 inch tablet could fold into thirds, making it more compact for toting around another phone design had a screen. You could pull out to turn into a tablet and a more futuristic model had foldable and rollable displays in the same device for the first foldable.
Speaker 1: It would actually sell TCL [00:01:30] settled on a clam shell design, like Samsung's galaxy Z flip and Motorola's razor. It's basically a modern version of the flip phone with a foldable touch screen inside. In the case of T's model, we tested the crease is less noticeable than rival foldables and the device is almost ready, except for some tweaks to features like the software and the hinge. The biggest advantage project Chicago would have over rivals is its price. TCL didn't want to sell a $2,000 foldable like the [00:02:00] Z fold or a device that costs even half that much. It wanted to sell a product that more of us could actually afford, but it just couldn't do it. And it turned out that Samsung's new Z flip three wasn't as expensive as people thought it would be. The cheapest TCL could get with project. Chicago was $800. If you're spending that much, you might as well spend a couple hundred more for a brand.
Speaker 1: You know, like that thousand dollars Z flip three, what hurt pricing for TCL was component cost. The company [00:02:30] says materials like the display and chips cost about 30% more than before the pandemic because of the component shortage that even includes parts. It builds itself like the screens at the same time, us carriers, aren't really interested in pushing more full. They care more about 5g phones right now. And besides they already have Samsung's third generation foldables to sell. TCL said it decided to kill its foldable before Samsung's unpacked event in August. But seeing the Z flip three, really cemented its decision [00:03:00] project, Chicago can't really compete with the Z flip three. When it comes to specs, it may look similar, but it's a little thicker, a little wider and a little heavier. And the front screen is smaller. Those probably wouldn't be deal breakers for consumers, but other things could be project Chicago.
Speaker 1: Isn't water resistant it like the Z flip three, and it's not as sturdy. It uses Qualcomm snap, dragon 7 65 G processor, which isn't as fast or as powerful as the Z flip three S snap dragon eight [00:03:30] 80 eights project. Chicago also has a slower version of 5g and couldn't be used on Verizon's ultra wide bands network. It took Samsung's three generations of foldables to finally come out with devices that are durable and affordable enough for normal consumer use TCL isn't there yet. Now TCL is starting over. The company says its future device could look a lot like project Chicago, but it won't be the same product. And it's going to be at least a year before we actually see this thing. Or [00:04:00] for now Samsung's thousand dollars E flip three could be the cheapest foldable, and Samsung's probably going to keep its hold on the market project. Chicago never stood a chance for CNET news. I'm Shara Pipkin. Thanks for watching.