Samsung’s making headlines for its foldable phone, but it turns out Apple is hot on its tails. The iPhone maker just got the USPTO’s approval for a patent concerning flexible displays, its second one.
To be clear, the patent doesn’t actually say if the foldable display will one day be used for a foldable iPhone, but that’s probably the best use of it. We don’t know if Apple is actually working on a prototype at the moment. There were rumors last year which claimed that the company was collaborating with LG to produce OLED screens by 2020.
Apple’s Foldable iPhone Plans
Apparently, Apple chose LG over Samsung because it didn’t want its biggest rival to find out what it was up to. Yet another rumor from earlier this year claimed that the bendy iPhone will make its debut in 2020. This timeline came about after an analyst met up with various iPhone suppliers in Asia.
The key issue with flexible displays is the hinge at the center of the handset. It has to be perfect so that no one can see the fold in the middle. Apple’s new patent talks about this issue at length, detailing the various hinges which can be used to support the structure.
Apple tries to cover all its bases in the patent, describing flexible hinges which helps the flexible display bend. The panel might be positioned front-to-front or back-to-back. There’s talk of designs in which the iPhone is folded inside (like a book) or outside (like a book cover). There could even be a double-hinge which allows both positions to be possible.
All this lines up with Apple’s previous display patent which highlighted a design where the screen can be opened and closed like a book. It’s easy to see how such a concept would let the iPhone unfold into an iPad.