While Samsung fights the hardware behind it’s presumptively named Galaxy F folding smartphone, recently published patents show that Apple continues to experiment with the same transformational technology.

Details of the new patent have been highlighted by Jack Purcher at Patently Apple. In essence it extends the previous folding iPhone patent to include new hinge arrangements and new materials to cover the workings of the hinges:

Apple’s second patent win covers a new round of patent claims that define the additions to the original invention. The main focus is on a flexible hinge. The secondary point touches on the use of fabric for the housing.

… a flexible hinge coupled between the first and second housing portions, wherein the flexible hinge flexes to allow the first housing portion to rotate relative to the second housing portion; …wherein the foldable display has first and second display portions separated by a third display portion, wherein the third display portion overlaps the flexible portion of the housing …wherein the flexible portion of the housing comprises fabric.

This trifold approach would allow a third of the Z-folded display screen to remain visible, allowing it to be used as a standby screen, or even full iOS features when closed. Apple’s first iPhone was a 3.5 inch display, and with a lot of people asking for a smaller iPhone, the Z-fold could offer a return to that form factor probably with the same thickness) but also the opportunity to fold out to a much larger screen more in fitting with ‘Plus/Max’ style of iPhone.

Which at least answers the one key question of ‘why have a folding smartphone?’

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