Apple wants to patent more durable folding iPhone or iPad idea, like Microsoft

A new Apple patent application describes what may be a more practical approach to creating a folding iPhone or iPad.

Folding smartphones don’t have the best of track records so far…

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Samsung’s Galaxy Fold launch was a disaster, with review units failing after just two days’ use. The updated version almost immediately started suffering problems, too. Microsoft’s Surface Duo failed during a launch demo. The Motorola Razr died during robot testing of the fold.

Apple’s patent application describes an approach using two completely separate screens that can act as a single display when unfolded. It was spotted by Patently Appleand is written in the usual dense patent language.

The electronic devices may use sensor measurements and other information to detect when an edge of a first device is adjacent to an edge of a second electronic device.

In response to detection of adjacency between the edges of the first and second devices, the devices may transition from an independent operating mode in which each device operates separately to a joint operating mode in which resources of the devices are shared.

In the joint operating mode, images may extend across displays in the devices, speakers in respective devices may be used to play different channels of an audio track, cameras and sensors in different devices may be used in cooperation with each other, and other resources may be shared.

It describes magnets being used to align the screens.

Magnetic components may hold devices together in a variety of orientations. The magnetic components may operate in cooperation with beveled housing edges and other structures to help hold devices in planar configurations in which the devices lie in a common plane and non-planar configurations in which the devices are oriented at a non-zero angle with respect to each other.

Whether the patent will be granted is unclear, as the Microsoft Surface Duo and Neo (the latter seen in the image above, and video below) use the same approach. However, patents often hinge (sorry!) on quite fine details.

We’ve seen a number of concepts for folding iPhones, with UBS suggesting we might see a folding iPad first.

Is this a style of folding iPhone or iPad you’d like to see? Personally I’m not persuaded by the idea of an image split by a hinge, but let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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