It seems that over the past year we’ve seen more patents than in the whole last decade. That’s because we’re on the cusp on moving onto a new paradigm, involving foldable phones, tablets, foldable everything. Also interconnected with 5G… Apple can’t stay away from it, as shown by its latest patents, which we dissect below.
Apple patented a series of foldable display designs, which seem to predict their approach to foldables. Apple is said to be planning its first foldable display device in 2020, aiming for a “different approach”. They’ve been working on it and patenting stuff as early as 2011, with an update in 2016 and now they have a plurality of diagrams.
We have multiple versions of the foldable Apple device, including the most basic model of all, simply two parts and a hinge between them, with a foldable screen on the side. There’s also a vertical foldable device and one with a weird loop. Some of the designs feel like the Microsoft Surface devices, while others seem overcomplicated.
Apple seems to dislike curves, as their approach is mostly angular and reinforced with multiple components and layers. There’s the idea of having a folding body with screens on the outside, or folding screens, with the pliable parts within the screens. Multi link assemblies are also proposed and we see a device with various levels of thickness, multiple flex points.
Apple has a lot to choose from, including materials, hinges, components, symmetry of lack of… Even a roll up device is proposed at some point, or one that looks like a wallet. Also, they even tried out a triple display setup, like the famous Xiaomi leaked foldable phone. There’s no way to predict which of these will make it into production, so I guess we have to wait till 2020 to learn more.