Apple Patents a Foldable Phone You'll Actually Want

If the future of phones is halving their size thanks to foldable displays, count me in. Especially if it looks like these images of a future iPhone based on a new Apple patent.

Credit: Lets Go Digital

(Image credit: Lets Go Digital)

The Dutch tech and 3D concept fan blog Let’s Go Digital made these renders based on the description and diagrams in a patent published on Valentine’s Day by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

It’s interesting that Apple seems to be betting for portability rather than expandability. Only one manufacturer seems to be on that same track — Motorola and its resurrected Razr.

Credit: Lets Go Digital

(Image credit: Lets Go Digital)

The rest of the leading phone manufacturers — like Samsung, Huawei, or Xiaomi — are looking to double the size of current phones to turn them into mini-tablets rather than reducing current sizes when you are not using your black mirror.

This is what Huawei may release this year. Credit: ETNews

(Image credit: This is what Huawei may release this year. Credit: ETNews)

They are betting that phones will be more useful to do work on the road or enjoy a better movie watching experience if you can double their size when unfolded.

MORE: All the Incoming Foldable Phones of 2019

The only way you can do that without making them unwieldy and not pocket-friendly is by using a folded display. When folded, the phone will have the size of a current candybar phone. When unfolded, it will feel like a tablet.

But there’s a third school of thought there, which basically is “let’s use foldable displays to make a completely new phone format”. It only has one member for now: Nubia and its Alpha phone,

A new wrist phone coming at MWC 2019. Credit: Nubia

(Image credit: A new wrist phone coming at MWC 2019. Credit: Nubia)

A phone that is a watch that is a camera, with a new dedicated interface that looks from the future even while the phone-watch-camera itself looks rather retro, like a Casio calculator-watch from the 80s.

It will be interesting to see which of these three ways of understanding personal communications and productivity will be the predominant solution in a couple of years. I have to admit that, to my own surprise, some gut deep inside me is betting on that Nubia.

In any case, don’t hold your breath for the Apple phone just yet. The Cupertino company will almost certainly not release a foldable this year. The company is probably waiting until the dust clears up before coming out with its own — if these things finally succeed in 2019 and 2020.

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.