If recent rumors are accurate, Samsung's foldable phone will be arriving on Wednesday along with the company's flagship Galaxy S10 line. There are a few other companies that could be unveiling their own foldable phones in the coming months, and now, a newly updated patent suggests that the Cupertino, California, company might have some long-term plans of releasing such a device.
According to a report from CNET, Thursday's update continued a patent that Apple had first filed in 2011 and initially updated in 2016, and shows drawings of what appears to be a bendable or flexible iPhone. The publication observed that the device depicted in the patent is more similar to Motorola's previous concept of an updated, "more pocketable" Razr, as opposed to Samsung and Xiaomi's plans to release a foldable phone that comes with "mini-tablet" functionality.
The drawings suggest that Apple has multiple design ideas for the bendable phone, including a trifold design with three screens and a more conventional clamshell design with two screens. As explained by BGR, the patent further suggests that Apple is considering devices that could be folded inward or outward, with the displays either located on the interior or exterior of the phone.
In terms of the apparent flexible iPhone's features, the drawings show that the device can be bent through the hinges and specialized housing built around its flexible OLED display. There was no mention made, however, of any possible internal specifications or features that could come with the device, should it be released in the future.All in all, BGR noted that the flexible display technology illustrated in Apple's updated patent could also be used in some of the company's other products, such as the iPad and MacBook, and not just the iPhone. This, according to Apple, could help the company "provide improved electronic devices," as OLED screens, unlike their LCD counterparts, can allow for devices to be bent or folded.
This isn't the first time Apple has been rumored to be working on a flexible iPhone, as BGR pointed out how the company was rumored in 2017 to be teaming up with LG Display on a foldable device, with the goal being to "keep the design hidden" from longtime rival Samsung. However, it's still unclear if or when Apple plans to release such a handset, especially since the company has widely been rumored to be keeping things similar to last year's iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, in terms of design for its 2019 release cycle.