Foldable iPhone could beat Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 with this breakthrough

Foldable iPhone
(Image credit: Antonio de Rosa)

The Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 is rumored to be a big upgrade over the original, but it might have some serious competition from Apple's future foldable iPhones, thanks to Apple's latest battery patent.

The patent is titled Flexible Battery Structure, and features a series of potential designs for how Apple could make a bendable power cell, either to go into a foldable device or to be installed on a fixed-display product but in a smaller space. 

As the patent says, batteries are a large and inflexible component normally, and bending them can be very dangerous under normal circumstances. Currently, foldable phones tend to use two smaller-than-average batteries mounted on either side of the fold. This allows the phone to bend normally and have a reasonable battery life at the expense of extra internal space being given to the dual battery arrangement.

Apple's approach is to split the battery into smaller sections and mount them onto a flexible base. This would then allow the whole structure to fold without damage in one direction, perfect for the current style of foldable phones we've seen on devices like the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip or Motorola Razr 2020

The patent also refers to an older Apple patent for a flexible rollout display. In this version, the battery is squeezed into the main housing alongside the other main components. The display would then be pulled out from this frame, helped along by one or more cylindrical rollers. This is a completely different kind of foldable device from what we've seen before, but one that would work excellently with this new battery design.

A foldable iPhone is likely years away, but the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 could be imminent. Expected to launch in August, the Fold 2 could sport major upgrades like a new camera array taken from the Galaxy S20 Plus, larger displays inside and out with 120Hz refresh rates and an S-Pen stylus to make the most of the large internal screen.

While we're likely a long way off a foldable iPhone, we've still got the iPhone 12 to look forward to this year. This new range of premium iPhones will include three different sizes across four models, with the top-end Pro versions likely receiving 120Hz displays, 5G connectivity, a new Apple-designed CPU and a new rear LiDAR depth-sensing camera.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.