Patent fuels rumours Apple is working on a FOLDING iPhone that would rival Samsung Galaxy X
Reports about Apple working on a foldable iPhone surfaced in October following claims made by a Korean publication.
Shortly after the iPhone X was announced, The Bell published a report claiming LG Display had formed a taskforce that will be developing a foldable OLED screen for a future iPhone model, while LG Display’s sister firm, LG Innotek has been tasked with creating the rigid, flexible printed circuit boards (RFPCB). The report cited unnamed industry sources who said the panel production could start from 2020, meaning any iPhone taking advantage of the technology will likely only appear in 2021.
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Now, Apple has filed a patent that goes some way to seemingly confirming these rumours. Titled: “Electronic Devices With Flexible Displays”, the patent was filed on behalf of Apple on 22 September 2016. Its description reads: An electronic device may have a flexible portion that allows the device to be folded. The device may have a flexible display.”
It doesn’t explicitly say the flexible display would be used on an iPhone. Instead, the patent keeps it a little vague, likely in a bid to make it more applicable across devices, saying the technology would apply to a “laptop computer, a tablet computer, a cellular telephone, a wristwatch, or other electronic device.”
The decision for Apple to work with LG over Samsung likely comes as a response to their fiery rivalry alongside a desire to curb leaks. Samsung is currently the sole supplier for the OLED panels on the iPhone X meaning the Korean firm takes a sizable chunk of every iPhone X sold – so it’s no wonder its looking to distance themselves from its largest competitor. It’s a difficult feat to accomplish when Samsung is the dominant force in mobile OLED production, but Apple seems to be keen on strengthening relations with LG as it begins its first forays into OLED production at its E5 plant. Sources also suggest Apple is looking to invest in the E6 plant.
A foldable iPhone would seem to be a clear differentiator between Apple and Samsung…if the Korean company didn’t have similar plans of its own. Patent designs and concepts from the Samsung show the fan-named Galaxy X will be a foldable phone and tablet hybrid. Samsung’s mobile chief, Koh Dong-Jin, suggested this bendable Galaxy Note will be coming in 2018. If that forecast is confirmed, Apple will once again end up lagging behind the innovation fold.