As we continue to approach Peak Smartphone — with smartphone makers continuing to push the limits of what they can do with a rectangular slab packed with sensors and other tech, and the overall market approaching saturation — we’re increasingly seeing the rise of what I guess you could call Weird Smartphone. The overall smartphone market has been somewhat moribund, with no one really standing in crazy long lines amped up with excitement over new smartphone launches the way they used to, partly because of a sense that we’ve seen it all before. There’s nothing new under the sun. The Next Big Thing is either just smaller, thinner, less expensive, has a better camera, or however tweaked it needs to be to get you to abandon the one you’ve got now and spring for an upgrade.
Samsung has been at the forefront of this trend, as we noted here, which can basically be summarized as follows: It’s essentially a throw everything against the wall and see what sticks approach to smartphone design. If consumers are bored with the familiar rectangular slab with a glass display, in other words, let’s get weird with it. And thus we have foldable phones and all manner of other attempts at getting people excited about smartphones again. Which brings us to Apple.
Apple may or may not decide to ever pull the trigger on a foldable iPhone — but it’s most definitely thinking about it. That’s because the iPhone maker’s engineers have bothered to develop a solution, for which the company has filed a patent, that purports to solve one of the many problems that bedeviled last year’s Samsung Galaxy Fold.
The problem: It’s a foldable device, so you’ve got to either accept the inevitable creasing that comes with all that opening and closing, or find a way to mitigate it. Apple’s summary of the idea included with the patent documentation is a bit academic for the average reader, but, basically, the idea seems to be to have flaps that can extend over the gap of a foldable device when it’s opened. The flaps are movable, and they would be retractable when the device is closed back up.
Check out an illustration of Apple’s idea below. Anybody out there intrigued about the idea of Apple producing a foldable iPhone, a la the Galaxy Fold?