While Samsung, Huawei and other corporations are developing bendable smartphones, Apple has decided to go further. The company is developing a display that can be pulled out of the iPhone so that the user can, if desired, “roll out” an additional screen and get more space for viewing content. Apple applied for a related patent earlier this year. And so far, this is one of the most interesting implementations of the “bendable” smartphone.
Why is this needed? Imagine buying yourself a brand new iPhone 12. It has a 6.1 “screen, but if you want, you can” pull out “the secondary display and increase its size, for example, to 10”. Or even twice.
Apple’s solution is to place the display in a case and then make it and the main screen “slide relative to each other.” Most of the drawings attached to the patent show a roller mechanism, with the help of which an additional display is located at the rear of the housing, which “slides out” if necessary.
However, the patent application also mentions the problems associated with such a solution. For example, this implementation is not suitable for common types of displays, including OLED or IPS. Apple proposes to solve them with the use of new miniLED screens.
In fact, this solution is a kind of “slider” – such phones were popular before the advent of touchscreen smartphones. In that case, the phone remained compact until the user required a keyboard, but could almost double in size when it was necessary to type. Here the solution is similar, just another display instead of a keyboard.
Even before the release of the Galaxy Fold and other similar smartphones, they started talking about Apple working on a foldable iPhone. At the same time, it was then argued that such a phone could be transformed into a tablet, thereby allowing to increase the screen area in the unfolded position. This implementation resembles existing solutions, while the patent described by Apple describes something completely new.
Interestingly, recently, smartphone manufacturers are increasingly “returning to basics”: for example, Samsung has released the Galaxy Z Flip, which is the very “clamshell” with which many went before. Simply with a single screen instead of a screen and a separate keyboard.
Another patent, “iPhone Fold”, which became known in August this year, describes not a folding smartphone, but a phone that has a “special hinge” – it connects two separate displays. The hinge will keep out dust, dirt, and debris to make the device more durable than current foldable smartphones, but the device screen will not bend or fold. That is, it will look more like a sandwich.
In any case, whichever approach Apple chooses, the corporation still has many serious problems to solve: at the current stage of technology development, it is not possible to make a motherboard or battery flexible. In this regard, the second solution looks more realistic.
When will the foldable iPhone come out?
Rumor has it that Apple is already testing an iPhone with a folding screen (or iPhone Fold, iPhone 13 Fold Pro, etc.). For now, we can only look at this device in the company’s patent applications. And don’t forget that corporations like Apple often file fake patents on purpose to confuse their competitors. At the same time, such leaks sometimes reveal the peculiarities of future Apple devices: for example, this is how we first saw that Cupertino is working on a fingerprint scanner built into the side Home button. And then Apple implemented the patent for the 2020 iPad Air.
In any case, the release of the foldable iPhone will clearly not take place until next year. Analysts believe that Apple will present such a device no earlier than the end of 2021, and maybe even in 2022.