The iPhone Flip or another future foldable iPhone could feature a unique, crack-resistant display made of mixed materials — not just flexible glass. According to an updated patent, Apple has proposed using ceramic particles to reinforce the protective layer of a folding smartphone.
As PatentlyApple (opens in new tab) points out, this insight comes from a continuation patent, meaning Apple updated a previous patent with new information. While Apple has protected several ideas surrounding foldable iPhones so far, this addendum could reveal the company is actively attempting to create one of the best foldable phones yet.
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The patent's attached images show how Apple's special crack-resistant display could work on devices that fold horizontally and vertically. We don't know yet whether the loosely-named iPhone Flip will look more like the phablet Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 or clamshell Motorola Razr, but we do know Apple has tested (or is testing) both orientations for flexible displays.
We typically recommend taking patents with a grain of salt, since there's no guarantee these blueprints will ever see the light of day. In fact, few ever do. But given the growing backlog of foldable iPhone patents and practical nature of this application, it seems like a realistic pitch.
Existing foldable phones already combine different materials to achieve a malleable design. Most of these devices employ a mixture of plastic and glass that can withstand bending; however, smartphone makers haven't been able to dissolve the sense of fragility that surrounds folding displays.
Apple is suggesting a proprietary, protective layer incorporating ceramic, the key material of the iPhone 12's Ceramic Shield screen. Ceramic is also touted as a premium case option for the Apple Watch.
But is ceramic the key to a successful folding phone? There's no way to know whether Apple will follow through on this patent's plans when it comes time to send the iPhone Flip or other folding device to production. We do know that the company won't risk a first-generation Samsung Galaxy Fold repeat, though. Expect the first folding iPhone to double down on durability.
The latest leaks point to a 2022 or 2023 launch for iPhone Flip. If you're in the market for a foldable, you'll sooner see the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 or Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3. Otherwise, the non-flexible iPhone 13 is due to arrive this fall.