Apple has been granted another patent (number 20180217639) for a “foldable for and display for an electronic device” that hints at a “foldable” or “bendable” iPhone in the future.
In March Bank of America Merrill Lynch told CNBC that Apple is working with its Asian partners on a foldable phone for 2020.
“We expect the iPhones this fall to be largely unchanged for the OLED versions although size changes have proved to be a catalyst in the past,” analyst Wamsi Mohan wrote in a note to clients. “Our checks also suggest that Apple is working with suppliers on a foldable phone (that potentially could double up as a tablet) for launch in 2020.”
In the patent filing, Apple says that, traditionally, electronic devices have a single form factor that may be driven by the size and shape of the display. Because many traditional displays are rigid or at least not flexible, a traditional device that’s adaptable to accommodate multiple form factors includes the use of a mechanical hinge or pivot joint. However, Apple says these traditional configurations used for traditional notebook and tablet devices are inherently limited by the integration and size required by a separate mechanical hinge. The company is looking at devices and techniques for forming portable electronic devices having a flexible cover coupled to a flexible display that “do not have the limitations or drawbacks associated with some traditional solutions.”
Per the patent filing, the display layer and the cover layer are configured to be moved between a folded configuration and an unfolded configuration by bending the cover layer along the foldable region. Methods of making a cover layer for an electronic device are also disclosed.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.