Google has been awarded a patent for a hinged folding phone, and it looks like it might be working with Motorola on development of the idea.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office published the details of the invention on its website, which shows a two-part handset with a hinged area in the middle, The majority of the text covers the method of displaying on or either side of the hinge, plus the software that would control it.
The patent was filed July 25 of this year. Additionally, the document illustrates the different modes the phone could be used in. It’s able to function in desktop or tent-shaped (allowing both sides to be used simultaneously) forms, alongside the normal tablet and phone modes present in other folding handset concepts. It's somewhat reminiscent of the Lenovo Yoga, although it would be far smaller of course.
The other key word in the patent’s title is ‘selectable’. Which screen is active can be chosen automatically by the device, depending on whether it’s placed on a surface and so on, but Google also want the user to swap between screens themselves also.
It would be interesting to have a phone with two separate homescreens or desktops on either side, with the user flipping over the phone to swap between the two. Unfortunately for us, the patent doesn’t go into any specific detail as to what this feature could be used for.
A camera is mentioned in the text, specifically talking about moving the viewfinder display to either screen. This would mean there’s no need for dedicated selfie and rear cameras, as you’d be able to see what the camera could see no matter the orientation of the phone.
Even if the folding tech leaves you cold, you might be interested in the fact that Motorola’s logo appears on some of the illustrations. Google purchased Motorola Mobility in 2011, only to sell it off in 2014.
Whatever happens, this device still has a long way to go before production, and rival folding phones, like Samsung's upcoming Galaxy F for example, will likely have already appeared by then. Let’s hope Google and Motorola have something good to show off if and when they launch.
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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.