First came Samsung. Then Motorola arrived at the party. Now, Apple has officially stepped up to the flexible, shifting plate - ostensibly to declare a full-scale device war.
Yes, it's really happening. Apple has just filed a brand new patent to the US Patent & Trademark Office entitled: "Electronic devices with flexible displays and hinges". Complete with schematics for a foldable screen which is reportedly set to challenge the current incumbent that is the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
If what we're seeing is correct, this could mean that Apple may, in fact, be actively developing a foldable iPhone offering. Something we can only assume will be released in the coming eighteen months as to guarantee remaining relevant - and perhaps even dominant - in every possible sector of the smartphone market.
The foldable touchscreen display has presented quite some challenges thus far. Samsung famously had some early issues involving durability and creasing.
Just recently, our hands-on experience with the new Motorola Razr proved the technology has yet to be perfected (with bubbles and creasing apparently being the norm in this realm). So it will certainly be interesting to see how Apple decides to approach the final frontier of modern smartphone engineering.
From what has been interpreted from the patent filing, we may be witnessing the making of a "solution", if indeed one actually exists. And it all hinges on... the hinge.
The patent depicts a hinge mechanism in concept that supports a screen by the primary body, "flat and held in a planar state." Scepticism is, however, naturally. As glass itself is not physically foldable, meaning a form of plastic will be necessary. And plastic tends to crease, bubble, and fatigue if you bend it enough (which will be a given in the nature of these phones). Finding a way to mitigate stress on the screen will be absolutely imperative.
As for a release date, again, we can only speculate. With the release of Motorola's Razr this February and the Samsung already being commercially available for some time, Apple won't want to wait around. Nor do they want to miss the incoming iterations of foldables.
Though we suspect there may be an advantage to hanging back for a hot minute and wait until all the heavy lifting/hard innovating has been done, thereby not exposing themselves to the kinks and flaws.
The first one through the glass, of course, is always going to get cut (or so to speak).