New patent application from Apple suggests the company may be working on an “expandable” design for a retractable phone. The patent suggests that the design could include a screen that bends within the device itself around a roller.
First noticed BGR, a patent filed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), referred to as “Retractable Expandable Display Electronic Devices.” The patent also mentions that a portion of the flexible display is in an unexpanded state inside the phone case, suggesting that the display might bend or roll inward.
Apple is not the first brand to switch to folding screens, which is expected to be the next big step towards future smartphone form factors beyond folding screens. Samsung received a patent for a phone with a motorized pivot mechanism back in 2019 and another patent for a patent that allows users to increase the display size on their devices by up to 50 percent.
Why are brands pushing for folding screens?
One of the biggest problems with the more complex shapes of smartphone screens you see today is that they use hinges. The most important part in these products is also the Achilles’ heel, which was best displayed in the first generation Samsung Galaxy Fold. The hinge serves as an ideal opening for the smallest dust particles to enter and over time disrupts the mechanism.
However, unlike foldable phones, swing screens do not have hinges. When the loop is missing, these devices also do not need to worry about the associated wear. As a bonus, a hinge-free screen also means a wrinkle-free screen.
However, according to analyst Ming Chi Kuo, the company is currently working on its foldable iPhone, which won’t be released until 2024.
The foldable iPhone is likely to be a product in the near future, and this particular patent could be used in much later devices. It is also possible that Apple will never make a phone with this design, which also happens with a lot of patents.