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Foldable Phones: Apple Explores Foldable iPhone in US New Patent

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Apple filed a patent in the United States that the tech giant is exploring a foldable version of the iPhone. Rumours have it that Apple has been working on a foldable design since 2016.


The design features an innovative hinge mechanism that would prevent creasing issues that have proved to plague similar foldable designs.


MacRumors describes a foldable device with a hinge that “ensure adequate separation between the first and second portions when the housing is bent.”


Movable flaps would prevent creasing by keeping the device in a semi-curved state when shut. When unfolded, the movable flaps extend to cover the gap, and the flaps retract when shut.


Huawei, Samsung, and Lenovo released foldable devices in 2019, to varying degrees of success. An analyst, Ben Wood said:


“Apple has a long history of assessing technology and only jumping into the market when it feels a particular technology is mature enough or that it can use it in a way that makes a meaningful difference to its products,


“There is little doubt Apple has probably been assessing flexible displays for years behind closed door and it comes as no surprise it is trying to do something different.”

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Foldable Design For the iPhone. GIF: MacRumors


This particular filing marks the latest in a series of patent filings by Apple over the last five years relating to foldable devices.


The hinge mechanism according to the filing would “ensure adequate separation between the first and second portions when the housing is bent”.

Foldable phones to be a highlight at Mobile World Congress in 2020

The Motorola Razr made a fold with a design that pulls the display at each corner like a piece of cloth. However, according to reviews, the smartphone “creaks” when bent.


Samsung’s Galaxy Fold also battled lots of problems in 2019. In fact, it was such a disaster that tech website Ars Technica called it a “master class” in how not to make a foldable phone.


Its major defects included broken screens and issues with a removable protective layer. It was a major embarrassment for Samsung, which has been facing growing competition from rivals, including Huawei. Ars Technica said in its review:


“Rather than a viable product, right now the Fold feels more like a publicly available prototype device that demonstrates an experimental new form factor.”


And Huawei’s Mate X also didn’t do much better, with many users complaining about creasing and interface issues.


Samsung revealed in January 2020 that it sold about 400,000 units of the Galaxy Fold. However, this falls short of its initial sales goal of more than 500,000.


Expectations are that phone companies will unveil foldable devices at Mobile World Congress 2020. The congress will hold from 24th to 27th February 2020 in Barcelona.


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