At the moment the last thing an iPhone users should do is attempt to fold their high-cost handset in half to make it more portable. Apple is already under pressure as a result of the bendgate and touch disease scandals, both of which focus on the alleged fragility of its flagship devices, with some of this attention being undeserved given that none of its handsets has been designed to survive excessive amounts of pressure being thrust upon them.
However, a patent awarded to the company this month paints a picture of a future in which a foldable iPhone is available to buy, overcoming the weaknesses of its predecessors by embracing flexibility rather than rigidity.
Forbes reports that the patent covers electronic devices which are built to be folded thanks to circuitry based on carbon nanotubes rather than traditional silicon. In the images accompanying the filing, Apple’s designers have showcased what this device might look like, echoing the style of older clamshell mobile phones from a bygone era.
The idea is to create an iPhone which can flex and bend without breaking and needing to be repaired with iSclack mobile phone parts – or at least one which takes a lot more effort to damage than the current crop of solid rectangular models that are on the market at the moment.
The carbon nanotubes allow a degree of flexibility in PCBs and would mean that things like the display panel, touchscreen sensor and other components would be malleable. Although the patent also makes it seem that certain areas of the device would be designed for bending, rather than the entire assembly being as fluid and flexible as material, for example.
Hypothetically, this would make it possible for an iPhone to be hinged in the middle, opening up to reveal its full display size while also being able to fold in half and fit more neatly in the pocket or bag of a user.
This is not the first time that a mobile phone maker has come out with a foldable phone concept, since South Korean firms Samsung and LG have also been developing technology in this area. The fact that Apple has been awarded a patent to protect the concept in the US will no doubt lead to yet more court battles between it and its rivals.
The first foldable iPhone is unlikely to arrive for a few years, since the upcoming iPhone 8, which is set to arrive a decade after Apple first introduced a smartphone, is rumoured to be equipped with an OLED display that follows in the footsteps of its predecessor by being flat.
The first iPhone with a curved body could come out in 2018, if current projections and rumours are to be believed. So 2019 may be the year in which a truly flexible Apple handset hits the market, along with the iSclack mobile phone parts to ensure that it can be mended and maintained when something does go seriously wrong with it.