Will 2019 be the year of folding smartphones? It sure is starting to look that way. Whether consumers take to these new designs remains to be seen, but more than one smartphone maker is at least considering a folding phone. You can count Apple among them, based on a recently published patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The patent application references the existence of flexible display technologies, and that it would be "desirable" to implement them into electronic devices, particularly cellular phones. This, the patent says, would lead to "improved electronic devices."
Apple's method for implementing a flexible display into an iPhone involves hinges.
Image Source: USPTO via Apple (PDF)
"Electronic devices may be provided that contain multiple housing portions. The housing portions may include, for example, first and second rectangular housing portions. The housing portions may be coupled together using hinges. The hinges may include hinges based on a three-bar linkage, hinged based on a four-bar linkage, hinges with slotted members, hinges formed from flexible support structures, and hinges based on flexible housing structures," the patent application states.
The various images supplied in the patent application show how different types of hinges would allow a phone or tablet to fold onto itself. LetsGoDigital ran with the sketches and made some renders based on Apple's designs (see the image at the top of this article), and the result is a sleek looking iPhone. Other than easier storage in a pants pocket, though, it's not clear what the point would be.
Bearing in mind that Apple did not make the renders, they show a different type of experience than Samsung's Galaxy Fold, which opens into a tablet and folds into a smartphone. It's possible that Apple could actually have something similar in mind, as opposed to what the renders show.
Apple filed for the patent in October of last year. It was granted and published earlier this month.
Thumbnail/Top Image Source: LetsGoDigital