Photo Credit: USPTO
Apple has patented a new hinge design for a foldable device, hinting that it may be working on a foldable phone of its own. Samsung was the first to unveil a commercial foldable phone last year, the Galaxy Fold, which then saw several hiccups and delayed launches. With Samsung's design, there was a visible crease in the middle, something that was noticed on the Huawei Mate X as well. Apple, in its latest patent, seems to have found a solution to the crease problem, and the unique hinge design keeps the display in a curved state even when folded to prevent any crease. The Motorola Razr (2019) also employs a hinge mechanism, but the overall design is quite different from what Apple has patented.
The 'Electronic Devices With Flexible Displays and Hinges' patent was spotted on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and the sketches show that Apple is indeed considering a foldable device design. The patent shows that Apple looks to build a unique hinge design that enables sufficient space between the two displays for the flexible screen to retract into, when folded. This space created in between the hinge, allows the display to stay in a curved state prevent any crease or tension. The hinge uses movable flaps to achieve this, something that can be easily understood in the GIF shared below.
All in all, the design is similar to the Galaxy Fold that folded out to offer more screen real estate. The design is not like the Motorola Razr 2019 that has a clamshell-like foldable design. Of course, this patent doesn't necessarily mean that Apple will bring a foldable phone in the near future. The tech giant is known to let others test the waters with new technology, and then fine tune it if there is a mass appeal. It could look to do the same with foldable phones, and while the initial work may have begun, a launch may still be far away. The patent may just be a result of an idea that Apple may have liked on the drawing board.
Apple is currently reported to be working on a low-cost iPhone, allegedly the iPhone SE 2, for launch in March this year. Some reports even suggest that this phone may be called the iPhone 9, and trial productions may have already begun.