Does This Apple Patent Mean What We Think It Means?

The tech giant may finally be entering the foldable fray.

Apple patent

Does Apple have a foldable phone in the works?

By Courtney Linder

The invention described in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office filing, granted to Apple on February 4, shows an electronic device with a flexible display and a novel hinge system that would ensure the screen doesn’t crease, and that there’s no gap in the spine of the device when closed.



Because the patent doesn’t explicitly state what kind of device is being described, it’s unclear if the aim is foldable iPhones or iPads. But based on the recent trend in foldables that Samsung ushered in, it’s most likely a smartphone concept.

In the invention description, Apple describes a novel hinge mechanism that could potentially set an Apple foldable apart from the rest of the pack. The hinge ensures “adequate separation between first and second portions of the housing when the housing is bent,” according to the patent. That basically means the two flat portions of the device will fold together with a hinge that keeps them from touching, while bending the display as little as possible to prevent creasing.

The patent also shows two extendable flaps that open when the device is opened and in an unbent state. These moveable flaps extend parallel to the spine of the device, supporting the display while it’s flat. They retract when the device folds, leaving “room for a bent portion of the display along the bend axis.” So there won’t be a terribly awkward gap in the spine of the device when it’s folded, as is the case with the Huawei Mate X.



Intently focusing on the hinge is no mistake, lest we should forget the complete debacle of the first Samsung Galaxy Fold Foldable Phone, with a plastic cover that looked like a protective film holding the entire device together.

When media reviewers peeled off the plastic covering from the $2,000 device, calamity ensued.

This video report from the Wall Street Journal, for example, showcased the ridiculousness of it all: More