Apple is Working on an Outward Foldable iPhone, New Patent Filing Reveals

The new foldable iPhone patent shows a sidewall that can include touch sensors, and while this would look cool, durability may be a question.


Apple has been granted a new patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for an application of a new foldable smartphone design. According to schematics reported by Patently Apple, the latest concept shows a purported foldable iPhone that folds outward, instead of the inward folding design that notable devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and the Moto Razr 5G have used. It is actually closer to the Huawei Mate X foldable phone design, but has a few clear differences in terms of the advancements that it aims to make.

For one, the foldable iPhone in question would seemingly attempt to keep both the upper and lower folded screens equal in length, therefore not needing a thick bevelled part to break the flow of design. More importantly, the outward-folding design of the foldable iPhone apparently aims to deploy even the hinge area as functional. According to the patent, the sidewall that’s formed by folding the device would include either glass or other transparent material that can qualify in all parameters, including viewing quality, touch accuracy and durability.

Underneath this glass panel, Apple seemingly aims to use touch sensors to deploy a variety of functions. These may include touch sensitive volume control and interface navigation, and maybe even the return of Touch ID with a built-in biometric sensor – if at all it is possible to fit into such a tricky part of the device. The patent also states that the sidewalls may be both flat or curved, which would depend on what Apple finds as a more durable design decision in due time. While one part of the foldable iPhone display appears to be all-screen, the other part may seemingly feature an under display conduction earpiece for calling.

There would also be connectivity ports on one of the two folds, hence lending credibility to this patent’s potential as a commercially viable device in the future. The patent, at the end, also shows potential for devices with three or four folding panels, hence suggesting that Apple aims to keep its foldable iPhone plans modular and flexible, going forward. While we have seen the odd foldable iPhone rumour every now and then, Apple is not expected to launch one any time soon. The company typically waits for a market to build, and then comes up with a sound implementation of an in-demand tech, and the market for foldable phones is far from built right now.

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