Apple might be busy with its slew of products coming out this year, but that doesn't mean the tech giant has abandoned efforts to reimagine its flagship smartphone. A new patent points to the possibility of a foldable iPhone with a distinctive hinge that would prevent the display from creasing.
The patent, filed with the USPTO (opens in new tab) and spotted by AppleInsider (opens in new tab), suggests a curved hinge design that would allow a phone to fold without stressing the display with a sharp crease. This would also extend the life expectancy of a a proposed foldable iPhone, making it less likely to crack over time.
We've seen existing foldable like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and newly-released Motorola Razr suffer different issues related to their hinges — a visible crease in the case of the Fold and creaking noises reportedly coming from some Razr's. Apple's solution is a mechanism that would allow the middle section to curve outwards like a tear drop. By expanding the radius of the part that folds, it's less likely a crippling crease will occur.
This isn't the first we've gotten a glimpse of what a folding iPhone could look like. Designer Antonio De Rosa imagined a beautiful foldable iPhone concept in March, while a previous Apple patents for a foldable battery and a cold weather-resistant display (opens in new tab) explore how it'll work.
Some analysts have predicted that Apple will release a foldable iPhone as early as 2020, although we've only heard rumors so far regarding a 4.7-inch iPhone SE 2 (iPhone 9) and several iPhone 12 models.
Apple files patents all the time, and several of the protected ideas never make it to the public. It's too early to say whether a foldable iPhone falls into the concept-only category. But if such a phone could work like the above (and promise better durability than current foldable options), I would be tempted to get my hands on it.