The iPhone 8’s release date is still almost a year away, but rumors about Apple’s highly-anticipated 10th-anniversary device are already abounding. With the Cupertino-based tech giant all but promising that the iPhone 8 would be its most revolutionary device yet, the hype surrounding the device is higher than ever. With Apple’s recent patent filing, however, the anticipation surrounding its next flagship device has broken through yet another ceiling.
So what’s so unique about Apple’s recent patent? Simply put, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent for a foldable smartphone design. A Patently Apple report stated that the patent for a foldable smartphone was filed by the tech giant sometime in Q3 2014, under parent number 9,485,862. Considering that the patent was published on Tuesday, it appears that Apple has indeed been granted exclusive rights to the foldable smartphone design.
Foldable smartphone concepts are nothing new. Samsung, Apple’s biggest rival in the smartphone market, has been exploring foldable smartphone designs for years. The South Korean tech giant has long teased the Galaxy X, which is widely speculated to be the world’s first consumer-ready foldable device. However, Samsung’s Galaxy X concept, which was unveiled practically three years ago, is yet to see an official release.
A folding smartphone carries many advantages regarding design. For one, it would enable the device to have a much smaller footprint, especially when folded. It would also give users a bigger workspace since the device’s screen would essentially double once the display is unfolded. Considering that smartphones are essentially becoming all-in-one productivity devices for consumers, such advantages would certainly make the design very compelling.
However, a foldable display presents numerous challenges, many of which Samsung is allegedly dealing with. With the delay of the Galaxy X’s release in mind, this does seem to be the case. Despite this, however, the recently-published patent appears to show that Apple already has a plan to make sure it would be able to make its foldable smartphone design feasible. These were described in the recently-published patent.
“Conductive carbon nanotube paths can form signal paths that are flexible and resistant to cracking. The carbon nanotube structures may be incorporated into signal cables such as flexible printed circuit cables, rigid printed circuit boards, printed circuits that include rigid portions with flexible tails (sometimes referred to as ‘rigid-flex’), portions of display structures, portions of touch sensors such as capacitive touch sensor arrays for displays or trackpads, camera structures, antenna structures, housing structures, internal device structures, electrical components, substrates, brackets, housing walls, other structures, or combinations of these structures.”
Thus, the magic of Apple’s foldable smartphone might very well lie in the use of carbon nanotubes. As for the device’s frame, the patent appears to show that the smartphone’s casing could either be glass, ceramic, metal or a special form of fiber. This, together with the nature of the innovation, has encouraged some Apple fans to believe that the iPhone 8’s killer feature might very well be a foldable display.
While such a premise would indeed be interesting, it would be pretty difficult for Apple to incorporate a foldable screen in the upcoming iPhone 8. With the iPhone 7 being in the market for about two months now, there is a very good chance that Apple is already in the process of finalizing the design and feature set of the iPhone 8. Thus, while rumors might point to the iPhone 8 having a radical redesign, a foldable display might not be incorporated into the device just yet.
One thing that Apple fans can look forward to, however, is a series of more pragmatic design changes to the iconic smartphone. Persistent rumors are abounding about Apple perfecting long-range wireless charging technology so that particular feature might very well make it to the iPhone 8. Apart from this, an edge-to-edge, bezel-less display is also widely speculated about the device.
Apple’s iPhone 8 might not be as radical as a foldable flagship, but it would surely be one of the most notable smartphones that the Cupertino-based tech giant will ever release. Rumors about the device are very encouraging so far, as almost all alleged leaks and speculation point to a capable and groundbreaking new smartphone. For now, at least, the iPhone 8 would continue to exist in the realm of rumors and speculations, while the hype surrounding the device grows steadily.
[Image by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images]