iPhone fans have been calling out for a new design, and although we’re expected big changes next year, Apple could have something even more special up its sleeve for the future. The company has patented a folding smartphone that can clip onto your clothes.
Granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, Apple’s patent is titled “Flexible display devices,” and it describes a smartphone with a flexible OLED display that can be folded in half — like the flip phones we all carried a decade ago.
Apple proposes the device could be made out of nitinol, a nickel and titanium alloy known for its elasticity, which would allow the phone to fold in the middle when it’s not in use. Its components would be housed in the top and bottom sections of the device.
Apple also suggests more than one design for the device. In addition to a model with a display that folds away, the company describes another option that leaves the display exposed on the outside, allowing it to be used even while the phone is folded up.
With the second design, Apple proposes adding a pattern to the phone’s housing that would provide grip and allow it to be clipped onto clothing.
“The two pieces are attached via a single- or multi-shaft hinge mechanism supporting rotational motion, allowing the two housing portions to move relative one another,” explains AppleInsider. “Connections between upper and lower housing are accomplished through flexible printed circuit boards.”
It seems highly unlikely Apple would ever use a design like this now that clamshell phones are a thing of the past. It doesn’t really bring any advantages over the smartphone form factor we’re used to today, other than protecting the display when the phone is not in use.
Don’t expect this particular patent to lead to much, then, but it’s interesting to see Apple is still working on all kinds of designs for the iPhone behind the scenes.
Apple is expected to use flexible OLED displays for the iPhone 8 next year, but instead of allowing the device to fold in half, they will reportedly enable Apple to employ a new “all-glass” design with curved edges — similar to Samsung’s popular Galaxy S7 edge.