Apple Is Releasing a Foldable iPhone, and It’s Not Only About All Those Patents

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has revealed yet another Apple foldable phone patent. It’s the latest of many pointing at a future flexible iPhone, but it’s not the only reason why it’s clear that Apple will release a foldable phone sooner than later.

Credit: Robby Fester

(Image credit: Robby Fester)

The patent talks about how flexible displays have a problem with cold weather on the folding part. Cold can make this area fragile and brittle. The documents describe a heating method to avoid this potential pitfall.

In addition to this patent, at least three other foldable Apple iPhone patents have already surfaced.

In March 2018, Apple got a patent for a flexible battery that would be integrated with the display, with graphite padding to help dissipate the heat that will occur when you combine the two.

MORE: Huawei Mate X Hands-On Review: Samsung Should be Scared

In October, the USPTO awarded one to a magnetic latch that would keep the phone closed without any physical mechanism, which seems like a very Apple thing to do.

Last month, on February 14, Apple got another patent that showed a normal iPhone that would fold in half making it more compact — like the future foldable Motorola Razr.

Choosing between new market growth or irrelevance

It seems like an awful lot of patents for Apple not to be at least considering jumping into the foldable phone train, which analysts consider the future of phones and a path to a growth that has become stagnant. In fact, some of those analysts have already said that Apple will release a foldable iPhone as early as 2020.

But we can’t really tell if Apple will release a foldable iPhone or not. Everything points out to a yes: the consumer excitement, the obvious utility of having a phone that can display more information when needed (if you are of the phone-to-tablet foldable school) or be more compact when carried around (if you prefer the halve-in-two flip foldables), and the booming market projections that has lead to the foldable phone invasion of 2019.

But barring a complete disaster and the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X becoming total flops (and that will not happen), it’s becoming more and more clear that Apple will release a foldable phone, period. These patents only show the obvious — Apple is doing its homework and getting ready to do it.

If Apple doesn't do it, and soon, they company will risk being driven into irrelevance. Like when Jobs refused to adopt larger screens and the Android brands stole Apple’s thunder and market share. The company is already at No. 3 globally and Xiaomi and Oppo are not far behind. It’s a mistake that Tim Cook and his minions know they can’t afford to repeat.

Do you think a foldable iPhone is inevitable and what kind of design would you want? Sound off in our new forum.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.