The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple's US Patent of "flexible display devices". The tech giant's patent of foldable iPhone seems to be a step ahead of Samsung. The patent application of the Korean-based company was previously published. It revealed a foldable display. Now, time will tell how soon it is for a foldable smartphone to finally hit the market.
The Apple Insider has reported that the Apple patent No. 9,504,170 described an iPhone that has a "foldable full-screen display". Apparently, the patent was first filed for in July 2014. Fletcher R. Rothkopf, Andrew J. M. Janis and Teodor Dadov were listed as the inventors. In order to achieve this innovation, Apple has to use a flexible "metal-backed OLED display". This seems to support the previous report that Apple is venturing more into using the OLED technology. The iPhone models that have been released all feature LCD display. This might be a sign that the company has already planned even back in 2014 of utilizing the new display technology.
For iPhone users, the possibility of this is a device that can be folded into two. This will provide more convenience and portability. Aside from the required OLED display, there needs to be a metal support structure. The nitinol, a nickel and titanium alloy have been proposed for that. According to the Apple Insider, the latter is known for its elasticity and unique shape memory abilities. Other alternatives include flexible polymers.
The idea is certainly music to one's ears. However, since Apple has to use an OLED display, it will take some time before a foldable iPhone will actually be commercially released.
Samsung is Apple's primary supplier of OLED along with LG. Sharp is set to join by 2018. The maker of Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge have already been using the technology in some of its devices compared to Apple. It's the one leading when it comes to this display technology.
Since an OLED display will open the way for such innovation, it's also possible that Samsung could come up with its own bendable smartphone. In fact, CNET previously reported that the published patent application of Samsung showed a phone that can be folded half down in the middle. There are also other reports that the tech company might release this smartphone next year.
Sam Mobile went as far as to say that one of the possible devices that could have this feature is the Galaxy X. If it's true, the said phone will probably be the first one to have completely foldable display. Based on that leaked image of the patent application, its hinge is akin to that of the Microsoft Surface Book.
The tech industry is a competitive market. It's important to keep consumers interested. Innovations are part of moving forward. Smartphone makers have to create devices that will provide convenience, portability and good performance to their buyers.
With the constant advancement of technology, Apple and Samsung will both end up with their own foldable smartphones. Though the date of when that will exactly happen is still out in the open.