Do foldable phones represent the future of smartphone computing? It certainly starts to look like this. Over the past few days, we've seen new collapsible smartphone designs from Samsung and Huawei. Of course, Samsung has the Galaxy Fold and Huawei, the Mate X. Both devices are extremely expensive and, if we are honest, look more like prototypes than refined products. Nevertheless, it is clear that foldable phones may represent the next frontier of innovation for smartphones.
And where is Apple in all of this? Well, as usual, society always stays away; Although this does not mean that the company is not busy exploring all sorts of interesting new ideas in the field of foldable phones.
At this point, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today released an Apple patent application that details a solution to normal wear and tear of a foldable screen. Apple specifically notes that a screen may be damaged when it is folded in cold weather. One of Apple's solutions to this problem is to heat the portion of the screen that bends to avoid unnecessary damage.
The patent abstract reads as follows:
An electronic device may have a hinge for bending the device around an axis of curvature. A display can extend on the axis of curvature. To facilitate bending around the bend axis without damage when the screen is cold, part of the screen overlapping the bending axis can be heated selectively. The portion of the screen that overlaps the axis of curvature can be self-heated by illuminating pixels in the portion of the screen that overlaps the axis of curvature or can be heated at the same time. Using a heating element or other heating structure providing warmth to the screen part. overlapping the folding axis. The control circuits may engage a latching mechanism that opens and closes the electronic device when the temperature of the portion of the display that overlaps the axis of curvature is less than a predetermined temperature.
The full patent can be viewed here.
Now, does this mean that Apple will definitely release a collapsible iPhone at some point? Not necessarily. Apple files patent applications for all kinds of products and technologies that never see the light of day. The patent points out however that Apple will not be completely caught off guard if foldable smartphones actually become the standard design of smartphones in the future.