Some technology might still be in its infancy, but it does not mean that companies are not willing to explore future improvements. Flexible displays have been around for a while, but it was just recently when smartphone manufacturers started to produce a foldable model ready for retail. Tech industry analysts have already pointed out that Apple should adapt lest it will lose its foothold in the market. It appears the company finally took action and filed a patent for an iPhone with a folding display.
A report from BBC reveals that the documents submitted reveal an innovative hinge mechanism. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Royole FlexPai, and Huawei Mate X, all had a problem with the flexible screen. It seems that each of the aforementioned handsets did not account for the creases that form when the Polyimide (PI) substrate bends beyond its threshold.
Only Motorola was able to overcome this design flaw when it introduced the new Razr. Repeated folding and unfolding will eventually create a stress point near the hinge that ultimately leads to damage and other issues. Therefore, the Lenovo-owned brand came up with a proprietary hinge mechanism that keeps the display taut when open, but loosens up when closed.
Furthermore, it accounted for the space needed to allow the flexible panel to bend naturally within the housing. It looks like Apple is prepared with a similar approach, but with a clever active mechanical hinge system that creates the space needed to accommodate the bend as well.
CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood suggests that the company might soon be ready to enter the foldable smartphone market. "Apple has a long history of assessing technology and only jumping into the market when it feels a particular technology is mature enough or that it can use it in a way that makes a meaningful difference to its products," he stated.
"There is little doubt Apple has probably been assessing flexible displays for years behind closed door and it comes as no surprise it is trying to do something different." Wood added. Samsung is about to unveil the Galaxy Z Flip, which is its second foldable device that will allegedly use ultra-thin glass technology to address the creasing issue. It might still be a while before consumers see a folding iPhone.