New Patent Application Suggests Apple Working on Foldable iPhone Concept

If new patent filings are to believed, a foldable iPhone is certainly on Apple’s radar.

According to a new report from Business Insider, Apple has filed patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office that show various configurations of how a foldable iPhone could work.

Apple’s patent application is titled “Flexible Display Devices” and serves as a not-so-subtle indication that a foldable iPhone is certainly on Apple’s radar. While some of the designs in Apple’s patent application point towards a practical device, they are merely concept ideas at this point and should not be taken as the definitive proof of a foldable iPhone being in development.

Of particular interest are the various ways Apple shows incorporating hinges and housing around a flexible OLED display to make it bend. There are drawings of a clamshell design and another illustration is of a trifold design. The drawings show flexible screens folding up inward and outward which could indicate use in something beyond a phone like a MacBook or iPad.

“Flexible displays may be mounted to the housing portions overlapping the hinges,” reads the application. “When the housing portions in a device are rotated relative to each other, the flexible display may bend. Hinges may be configured to allow the flexible display to be placed in a front-to-front configuration in which the active side of the display faces itself or a back-to-back configuration in which the active portions of the display face away from each other.”

The drawings in the application show a clamshell device which looks similar to rumoured updated Moto Razr, Motorola’s upcoming foldable smartphone. The second and the third sketch hints at the hinges that would enable the smartphone to fold smoothly. However, the first few designs do not give us a clear idea of the folding mechanism that Apple might opt for but it does indicate that the company might be working on to feature a number of housing portions with hinges.

There are also a couple of diagrams that depict a double-folding design with two hinges that will create three layers of the main body. Unlike Xiaomi’s foldable smartphone that folds from the sides, Apple’s patent describes a device whose sides fold in the opposite direction, hiding a major portion of the display with the inward-folding section.

These new additions to Apple’s patent for a flexible display are no guarantee that the company will release a foldable iPhone is 2019, but it’s still exciting to think about.

In related news, Samsung is expected to unveil both the Galaxy S10 lineup as well as its highly-anticipated foldable smartphone — the Samsung Galaxy Fold — at an event later today.