Unfolding the Mystery Behind the Foldable Phone Patents

So, we may just need to wait two more decades before the foldable phones finally wraps itself around the needs of a fast-growing community of technology gluttons.

Foldable Phone news
Foldable Phone news

The wait for foldable phones has been going on ever since the time smartphones came into existence more than a decade ago.

However, it may not have been as painful as “Waiting for Godot”, largely because the various players in the industry kept us bemused with their patent filings, comments on the features of such a phone and the actual problem that they would solve for the billions of cell phone users in the world.

The earliest talk of foldable phones came up way back in 2008 and the player was the now virtually forgotten Nokia. The media was shown an animated video of the phone that featured a thin slab of glass that could triple-fold down into a small surface and then folded on to the wrist, somewhat like a slap bracelet that then morphed into a smartwatch.

Of course, the media was impressed and there was a slew of articles around it. Post all the euphoria, there was silence. The timing was important, because just a year ago the iPhone had hit the market to queues longer than any other witnessed in the United States. What was even more important was that competitors such as Nokia, Blackberry, Motorola and Microsoft outsold the iPhone by massive margins.

Nokia called their foldable phone the ‘Morph’ though there was hardly the requisite technology available for the concept to morph into something real. But, the fact remains that the technology giants know how to piggyback on science fiction to create real-life products and foldable phones slipped into pole position for all the top mobile phone makers.

Now, cut to the present. Samsung is leading the charge today with its Galaxy Fold, and a slew of others like Huawei, Lenovo, Motorola and Xiaomi have followed suit by announcing their intention to fold our cell phone to ensure a snug fit into the pockets. In fact, two years back, even Apple applied for a foldable phone patent, and arch rival Google has already announced Android support for such phones.

But there are still a number of questions revolving around the consumer usability of foldable phones. For starters, how many would want phones that are twice as thick as the ones we carry now? And how many more are ready to compromise on the already precious commodity called back-up power which means that the phone may need a battery pack as must-have accessory? And, what about the need to have the apps customized to render on the folded screen?

So, the probability is that those who actually done come out with devices that allow the screens to double up would necessarily ensure that these phones also work as tablets. They would be bulky, awkward and possibly quite expensive, which means that only the early adopters of technology (also known as tech braggers) may be the only ones buying.

Make no mistake! The future willdefinitely see far cooler foldable phones than the ones that are early arrivers. The thinness of the OLED screens could result in some pretty smart innovations such as the user swiping a screen to unfold the phone or a shift to a more grippy surface as the phones wouldn’t work within a case. Imagine a device that is about the size of a candy bar but can morph into a mid-size phone or a larger tablet?

And the next milestone for this product would be the phone that is wearable. So, it would be bye-bye to the Apple Watch and the rest who are attempting to combine something on the wrist with something in the ear. There are reports that TCL is working on a smartphone that can wrap around a human wrist! More

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