Patents from Google. discovered by Patently Mobile. show a variety of rough designs for how a foldable device could work, with handsets folding in different ways. They’re clearly very early sketches, with not a huge amount of detail, but they do suggest what kind of foldable Google is considering.
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The first design shows a phone that would fold down on itself when not in use, a ‘clamshell’ design, with the screen is on the inside when the device is closed. This is a form factor a few other companies are looking at, including Samsung, for a Fold-successor.
Another design shows a handset that folds down in three sections, with three display surfaces that stack when folded to create one smaller device. While we’ve seen this design in a few other patents it’s something fewer manufacturers seem to be considering, as most patents we’ve seen show phones folding in two.
Neither of the designs in the patent shows any revolutionary new form of flexible screen that other companies haven’t considered, but it’s interesting that there’s no sign of a ‘notebook’-type foldable like the Galaxy Fold or Huawei Mate X.
What's the foldable market looking like?
While only Samsung and Huawei have foldable phones that will hit the market soon, a succession of leaked patents suggest everyone from ZTE to Apple have plans to enter the market, and these handsets come in a range of designs from ‘clamshells’ that fold down to ‘notebooks’ that open up.
It’s likely that every major phone brand will eventually bring a folding device to market, but Google does have one advantage over the competition. The company has already announced that it worked on a specific Android build for foldable phones, which Samsung and Huawei now use, so it’s clearly been thinking about folding devices for a while.
We don’t expect to hear anything official about Google’s devices for some time – the company doesn’t launch phones in the numbers many other other brands do, and it usually announces them at the end of the year, so we’ve a while to wait before we get any official word on the handsets.
We’ll keep you updated with all the leaks, rumors and news about Google’s foldable, and all the other folding devices headed to the market.
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Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.
He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.