The US Patent & Trademark Office has today published an Apple patent application for a foldable display. This follows earlier rumors that the company was working with LG on a future foldable iPhone.

An electronic device may have a flexible portion that allows the device to be folded. The device may have a flexible display. The flexible display may have a bending region that allows the display to bend along a bend axis when the device is folded.

The patent describes a display that can be ‘opened and closed like a book’ …

The first report of Apple working on a foldable display dates back almost a year, when it was said to be one of several companies partnering with LG. A new report just last month suggested that Apple planned to invest in an LG plant for production of a foldable display.

Both reports mentioned an OLED panel, technology currently used in the iPhone X. The patent application covers all the bases, referencing LCD, OLED and microLED.

Display may include an array of display pixels formed from liquid crystal display (LCD) components, an array of electrophoretic display pixels, an array of organic light-emitting diode display pixels, an array of pixels formed from crystalline semiconductor light-emitting diode dies (sometimes referred to as micro-LEDs), an array of electrowetting display pixels, or display pixels based on other display technologies. Examples in which display has been formed from organic light-emitting diode pixels or micro-LED pixels may sometimes be described herein as an example).

Although the screen used in the iPhone X appears flat, it is actually a flexible display with the ends tucked back beneath the glass covering. This is required to achieve the near-bezel-free look. The patent application goes further, though, describing a display designed to be folded and unfolded in use.

The previous report suggested that a foldable iPhone might come to market around 2021, by which time it seems likely Apple will have transitioned to microLED screens. These offer all the benefits of OLED and then some, further boosting brightness, saturation and power efficiency. Earlier this week, Apple was reported to be working with TSMC on some of the tech needed to use microLED panels.

The usual disclaimer applies: Apple patents way more things than ever make it into production.

Via Patently Apple

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Ben Lovejoy

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