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Patent filings show Apple might get in on the foldable phone craze

Patent filings show Apple might get in on the foldable phone craze

Perhaps not wanting to be left behind Apple has filed patent applications for how it might create foldable phones.

This week saw Samsung unveil the Galaxy Fold and Huawei reveal the Mate X, and it’s possible Apple may want the iPhone to get in on the action too.

Heating up

In February the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published two documents pertaining to Apple’s potential solutions for flexible displays.

One filing entitled 'Electronic Devices With Flexible Displays' details how Apple is considering using heat to ensure a cold phone does not break when bending.

The patent application reads: “To facilitate bending about the bend axis without damage when the display is cold, a portion of the display that overlaps the bend axis may be selectively heated.

“The portion of the display that overlaps the bend axis may be self-heated by illuminating pixels in the portion of the display that overlap the bend axis or may be heated using a heating element or other heating structure that provides heat to the portion of the display overlapping the bend axis.

“Control circuitry may engage a latching mechanism that prevents opening and closing of the electronic device when the temperature of the portion of the display that overlaps the bend axis is below a predetermined temperature.”

An image from Apple's patent filing entitled 'Electronic Devices With Flexible Displays'

Flexible tech

Another patent entitled ‘Flexible Display Devices’ goes into detail on other solutions for creating a foldable display, possibly on a phone.

It notes that current devices such as telephones, media players and computers may currently utilise liquid crystal displays, which are often mounted under a rigid layer of glass. While this protects the screen from damage, “the rigid nature of the cover glass and other display layers render the display inflexible”.

“Flexible display technologies are available that allow displays to be bent. For example, flexible displays may be formed using flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display technology.

“It would be desirable to be able to use flexible display technology to provide improved electronic devices.”

An image from Apple's patent filing entitled 'Flexible Display Devices'

It should be noted of course that Apple may not be actively working on a foldable iPhone, as companies often file for patents even if the product or idea ultimately doesn’t come to fruition.

Senior Editor

Craig Chapple is Senior Editor of PocketGamer.biz and InfluencerUpdate.biz. He was previously Deputy Editor at Develop and Online Editor at Nintendo of Europe.

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