New Folding IPhone Design Could Be A Smart Move

- Feb 21, 2019 -

Apple may never release a foldable iPhone that challenges the Samsung Galaxy Fold, but the design may be a profitable nest egg for Tim Cook and his team.

Last week saw Apple’s patent for ‘Flexible Display Devices’ published. Filed in October 2018 it shows a number of options in terms of hinge design, screen orientation and use cases, as Forbes’ Ian Morris noted last week:

So what's going on with Apple's folding phone patent update? Well, it looks there's a couple of ideas. One shows off a concept that gives two people a view of the device bent into a sort of pyramid shape. Clearly a way for two people to watch a TV show or movie at the same time, or perhaps enjoy two-player games.

The line drawings in the patent give a functional idea of what is going on, but Lets Go Digital has set its concept rendering team to work to give us a more visual idea of what a folding iPhone could look like.

All of this sounds like the bleeding edge of technology, design, and implementation that the Apple brand is identified with. But I have a suspicion that these ideas will not see the light of day for many years… at least not on an iPhone.

Tim Cook’s Apple has been reticent to implement new technologies in Apple’s hardware. On his watch as CEO the iPhone has become a master of iteration, with small changes inching the specifications upwards each September as the platform slowly accommodates features that debuted on Android handsets that are generation or two older.

Folding smartphones, as opposed to clamshell handsets of old, are set to be the defining trait of the ambitious manufacturer. I expect Samsung’s announcement to be the first of many that come out of Mobile World Congress next week. But I don’t see Apple’s 2019 iPhone line-up to have a folding phone. Given it may take until 2020 for a true 5G handset to run iOS, predicting a move up to a folding iPhone in the next two years would be a courageous call.

But every folding phone released is going to need to use a physical hinge design, to accommodate various screen orientations, and present a number of use cases. If Apple holds the patents and decided to licence them to other manufacturers, Tim Cook can profit from the revolution while sticking on the conservative iPhone development path.

Now read more the lack of innovation in the reports of Apple’s 2019 iPhone line-up…

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