A new patent application from Apple suggests the company may be working on an “expandable” phone design with a roll-up screen. The patent suggests that the design could involve a screen that folds inside the device itself, around a roll.
First spotted by BGR, the patent, filed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), is referred to as “Electronic devices with sliding extendable screens.” that the screen can be folded or rolled inside.
Apple isn’t the first brand to look to roll-up screens, which are expected to be the next most important step towards future smartphone form factors after foldable screens. Samsung received a patent for a phone with a motorized rolling mechanism in 2019 and another for a patent that allows users to increase the screen size of their devices by up to 50%.
Xiaomi has also received a similar patent in the past and the Oppo X 2021 is a real phone that already exists with a screen that can extend via a motorized mechanism when the user needs it.
Why are brands turning to roll-up screens?
One of the biggest issues with the more complex shapes of smartphone screens you see today is that they use hinges. The most crucial part also becomes the Achilles heel of these products, as best displayed in the first generation Samsung Galaxy Fold. The hinge serves as the perfect opening for tiny dust particles to get inside and over time compromise the mechanism.
However, unlike foldable phones, rolling screens do not use a hinge. Once the hinge is gone, these devices also don’t have to worry about the wear and tear associated with it. As an added bonus, a hingeless screen also means a crease-free screen.
However, the company is probably currently working on its foldable iPhone which won’t launch until 2024, according to analyst Ming Chi Kuo.
The foldable iPhone will be a likely product in the near future, and this particular patent could be used in a much newer device. It’s also possible that Apple will never make a phone with such a design, which also happens with many patents.
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