Foldable iPhone design is a marriage of iPad and Galaxy Z Flip

Foldable iPhone coming?
(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

If your current iPhone is folding or bending, you're probably in trouble. Fortunately Apple is apparently working on its own foldable phone that's intended to flex like Samsung's latest super-pricey phones.

Or at least that's what we're hearing rumbles of. On Tuesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent for a "Foldable cover and display for an electronic device." The below patent shows a tri-fold design that's not dissimilar to what Samsung's already patented, which can be seen in the above render from LetsGoDigital.

Image assets from Apple's foldable device patent

(Image credit: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office/Apple)

If you look closely, you'll see layers to the device, and that's because the patent calls for "a flexible display layer; and a cover layer coupled to the flexible display layer" with "foldable portion configured to be moved between" different configurations. Item five in the claims of the patent says "the foldable portion of the cover layer comprises a glass."

For durability's sake, the "foldable portion of the chemically strengthened cover layer comprises a glass or a glass ceramic," to help Apple from creating its own controversial foldable.

As someone who's reviewed iPads and marveled at the new Galaxy Z Fold, the below patent art makes me wonder about a three-screen iDevice that could replace all of my Apple gadgets. The patent doesn't give any dimensions, but if you unfolded the device to lay it flat, it would likely get closer to Apple's iPad Air or iPad mini.

The foldable iPhone would bend at two points, as if the Galaxy Fold or Galaxy Z Fold had two joints, and not one. Two figures from the patent show the device in two positions, one that's folded twice and another that is folded to two segments, one that's longer than the other.

But, of course, let's remember that this may never come to fruition. Inter-company patent wars are an ongoing way for these mega-titans to make bets for the future, or try and stop a rival from creating something — even when they have no interest in producing said patents. 

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.