Samsung patents another foldable phone design - and it's wacky

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review
(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Foldable phones seem to be the flavor of the season. Close on the heels of Oppo's launch of the Oppo Find N device that is finding favor in early reviews, Samsung is now increasing the benchmark by patenting a device that can slide in two directions - both vertical and horizontal. 

A patent application, spotted by Let's Go Digital, suggests that  Samsung has filed a patent application with the World Intellectual Property Office  (WIPO) in May for an electronic device with a display "having plurality of states and method of controlling the same." The said patent filing was released yesterday by WIPO. 

Given that Samsung has had a pioneering role in foldable screens that form a crucial prerequisite for hinged devices, it is not surprising that the company is hoping to get ahead of competition. The Galaxy Z Fold and the Galaxy Z Flip have seen competition from the like of the Motorola Razr 2020 and now the Oppo Find N, not to mention Xiaomi's foldable devices and one from Vivo slated to arrive in 2022. 

Samsung's tryst with screen types


(Image credit: Samsung Display Microsite)

Of course, this isn't the first time Samsung has flirted with the dual slide devices. It had done so in February. Earlier this month, the company also announced a new website that provides a closer look at the future of rollable and slidable displays. 

On the new microsite, Samsung has created five categories of its Flex OLEDs. These are the Flex Bar, the Flex Note, Flex Square, Rollable Flex and the Slidable Flex. While the first of these fits a clamshell-style device, the Note seems to be designed with the laptop in mind. 

The latest patent filings, which incidentally runs into 152 pages, shows a device with the screen appearing rounded to the right side and the top. They depict an almost full-screen design with a narrow frame edge at the bottom. One can spot the feature to extend the screen to the right and at the top, giving users the option to expand the screen to one or both sides. 

In other words, we could be witnessing a combination of a foldable and a stretchable screen working in tandem or one that stretches from not one but two axes. Sounds a bit bizarre but technology has a way of making even the most improbable happen.


(Image credit: Samsung Electronics)

More about the latest dual slider


(Image credit: Samsung Display)

The patent drawings seem to indicate a button to the left side that may initiate the slide-out, with the user possibly using a pinch to direct the side to which they want the screen popping out. The extra surface area appears to sneak into the housing of the device along the front panel, either from the side or the top. 

Of course, all of this is still in the realm of drawings and whether Samsung actually does attempt to set the bar higher for itself in the foldable / slider device market is to be seen in the future. What the drawings suggest is that the screen size could be enlarged by 30% to the sides and 25% above - almost the size of a small tablet. 

The patent filing also indicates several user options, that are also described in great detail. At first glance these appear to be an advancement of the flex mode that the two existing foldable devices from Samsung exhibit. The drawings suggest that the extra display could be used to open an additional app on a split screen. 

A messaging app or a social media app could be displayed on the second display so that the user can shuffle between two or more apps at the same time without having shut one or the other down. There also appears to be some way that the user could change the display layout, though the documents do not provide details. 

Must be said that folks over at Samsung's display division are constantly dreaming up new ways to use the screens on the smartphone. Having taken sliding devices to a new level, Samsung had spoken of retractable devices at the CES 2020. Earlier in 2021, the company filed several trademarks for foldable / stretchable devices. 

Whatever be the eventual outcome, we are enjoying this battle between the South Korean electronics giant and the Chinese phone makers, who appear to have a clear edge over Samsung in the smartphone market. 

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Raj Narayan

A media veteran who turned a gadget lover fairly recently. An early adopter of Apple products, Raj has an insatiable curiosity for facts and figures which he puts to use in research. He engages in active sport and retreats to his farm during his spare time.