Apple files patent for bendable smartphone

Apple files patent for bendable smartphone [Image: kieferpix via iStock]

Apple has filed a patent for a phone that can use a bendable OLED display, which could result in a device that folds in half.

Although it will not particularly resemble the old ‘flip phones’ popular in the early 2000s, the device could feature a hinged back. Along with the bendable screen, it could result in a phone that can fold in the middle to boost portability and storage.

The patent, discovered by AppleInsider.com, suggests that Apple has been considering the idea of a folding smartphone for years. The US Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple's US Patent No. 9,504,170 for "flexible display devices".

It is currently thought that users could fold the phone in half when not using it.

Apple has not yet incorporated OLED screens into their smartphones. However, it would be necessary for a folding phone. Apple has used LCD screens in its smartphones despite other manufacturers leaving that technology behind in favour of OLED.

OLED screens eliminate the need for a backlight by emitting their own light. This means that colours look bolder, blacks appear darker and the screens use less power than LCD counterparts.

The folding smartphone will also have to feature a metal support structure. The patent has revealed that Apple will manufacture this from nitinol, a nickel and titanium alloy. AppleInsider said that this is “known for its elasticity and unique shape memory abilities”.

According to the patent, the device would be split into two halves, each featuring different components and processors. AppleInsider suggested that the upper half would include cameras, speakers and display controls, whilst the bottom would house the microphone, CPU and graphics processor.

Connecting these two sections would be flexible circuit boards. The display would then be placed over the two halves, according to the patent.