Apple might be getting ready to create its first folding iPhone. Today, the technology giant was granted its second patent for a foldable screen design, which could possibly be used for an upcoming iPhone, according to 9to5Mac.
The company recently released the iPhone XS Max with a 6.5 inch OLED display, making it the largest display on any iPhone. As Apple and other smartphone creators continue to push more phablet-sized phones, eventually introducing folding smartphones will become the next logical step in advancing the way consumers use their devices.
A folding iPhone could easily double as an iPad while minimizing the device’s overall footprint. And with mobile TV on 5G networks availability just around the corner, some experts believe Apple could dropped the dramatically redesigned folding iPhone sooner rather than later.
While talking to CNBC earlier this year, analyst Wamsi Mohan predicted that Apple’s 2018 iPhones would keep the same basic design, but the company would be looking to switch things up in the next two years.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Apple’s most recent patent was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark and includes an updated round of claims that defines the additions made to the original invention. The new patent focuses mainly on the implementation of a flexible hinge but also mentions the use of fabric for the housing.
“Electronic devices may be provided that contain multiple housing portions. The housing portions may be coupled together using hinges. The hinges may include hinges based on a three-bar linkage, hinges based on a four-bar linkage, hinges with slotted members, hinges formed from flexible support structures, and hinges based on flexible housing structures,” reads an excerpt from the published patent taken from Patently Apple.
But Apple fans probably shouldn’t get too excited just yet. As of right now, there is no concrete evidence to support Mohan’s theory and analysts and bloggers have been speculating about foldable phones for years. In fact, both Lenovo and Samsung have demonstrated concept phone with foldable screens, and a few other companies have filed their own patents, but there are still no folding smartphones on the market.
According to Digital Trends, rumors suggest Samsung could be releasing its foldable smartphone — dubbed the “Samsung Galaxy X” — to the public later this year. If that is the case, it’s likely Apple’s folding iPhone will quickly follow.