If 2018 was the year of the notch, it looks as though 2019 may be the year of the folding smartphone. So far, we’ve seen the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X; and Motorola is confirmed to be working on a folding smartphone that will likely be branded as a Moto RAZR.
We’re now learning – thanks to patent uncovered by Patently Mobile – that Google has its eyes on folding smartphones as well. We all know that Google is supporting folding smartphones on the software side with Android Q, but this patent relates to actual hardware. The patent shows two different folding display designs, one of which has a single fold, allowing the device to fold like a book.
Based on the image, this appears to be portrait-style display, similar to what we’ve seen from drawings of the rumored Moto RAZR remake. There’s also a second design, which folds into a Z-shape when not in use. This double-fold design is no doubt more complex and it remains to be seen how such a design would be beneficial in everyday use.
While it looks as though Google definitely has some idea about how it would like a future Pixel folding smartphone to be designed, there is no guarantee that any of these designs will make their way to production. We’ve seen countless patent filings for products that never see the light of day over the years (including many from Google). However, if folding smartphone do end up taking off within the next few years, it’s very possible that Google could revisit these designs.
With that being said, by the time that Google is ready to produce a phone featuring either of the above designs, perhaps Corning will have its folding glass screens available for use as a more durable alternative to first-generation plastic designs.