Microsoft's extending screen patent gives us renewed hope of folding smartphones

The promise of bending, folding, flexible smartphones is yet to be fully realized, but a new patent from Microsoft gives us fresh hope of exciting form factors in the future.

The patent application for a 'flexible display extendable assembly' was originally filed way back in January 2016, but it's only come to light now after being published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and getting spotted by WindowsLatest.

Sketches included in the filing show a flexible screen that slides into the body of a device, keep just half of it on show, with the ability to pull the whole screen out and effectively doubling the size of the display.

Great for gaming and Netflix?

The patent says that the technology could be used in a variety of portable electronic devices including mobile phones and tablets.

It goes on to say: "a mobile phone with a flexible display can be used as a standard-size phone and then also extended or unfolded to increase the display viewing surface for a user to read emails, view a map, edit a document and other tasks that are conveniently accomplished on a larger display."

This all sounds very exciting - we'd love to be able to extend our phone screen during the daily commute for video streaming and gaming - but the likelihood of seeing this technology on devices anytime soon is low.

While rumors regarding flexible screens and devices have been circulating for years, we're yet to see physical devices hit the mass market (LG's G Flex and G Flex 2 aside)

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.