Electronics company TCL is pausing its plans release a lower-cost foldable phone this year, the company confirmed in an email to The Verge. Its clamshell-style foldable phone, codenamed Project Chicago, was in mid-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 is growing each year, it is still a premium product category,” Stefan Streit, chief marketing officer of TCL said in a statement to The Verge. “In combination with recent component shortages, the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs in 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 bring it to market at a price point that’s accessible to as many consumers as possible.”
Streit added that the company is “closely monitoring the market to determine the best time to launch a foldable smartphone.”
The company gave out a few sample devices to reviewers (looks like MrMobile got their hands on one) , but said it did not have any additional devices available, or any photos of Chicago to share.
The news comes a few weeks after the launch of Samsung’s latest foldable devices: the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 (TCL decided to pause its Chicago device before Samsung’s launch) But both of the foldable Samsung phones are on the higher end of the price range; the Flip 3 goes for $999, and the Fold 3 is priced at $1,799.
TCL showed off a few foldable prototypes last year, and again earlier this year at CES 2021, as well as a “rollable” screen design. In April TCL showed off a Fold ‘n Roll device that could expand from a 6.87-inch phone screen to become an 8.85-inch phablet, or a 10-inch tablet size.
The company says it’s not giving up on the foldable product category but doesn’t have a time frame for when its first foldable device may be commercially available.