The foldable phone train is lost on the tracks - after the Samsung Galaxy Fold’s durability problem caused its repeated release delays, and the Huawei Mate X’s future is now as up in the air as Huawei’s itself, we have no clue when folding devices will truly arrive at the station - but it seems Apple could be joining the race.
New patents granted to Apple, discovered by Patently Apple, show another foldable device design the tech company is considering, but it's not exactly a radical redesign of folding phones.
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The device shown in the patent folds over one crease, with the screen inside when shut - in this regard it looks rather similar to the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which had the same design.
The main difference is a three-tier folded system shown in the patent - while it's a little unclear what this refers to, it resembles the way Xiaomi’s foldable folds in on itself in three, so the sketch in Apple’s patent could indicate a different device that would fold as such, or simply a clasp system to keep the device shut.
It's worth pointing out that there's no indication what type of device the patent shows - while previous Apple foldable patents showed devices that were almost definitely a kind of iPhone, this patent could well be for a new iPad Pro, as their large sizes would benefit from additional portability.
A device being patented doesn't mean it’s definitely going to be made, as companies usually patent many different similar systems as they trial them, so don't hold your breath for a Samsung Galaxy Fold-style iPad Pro, or any other Apple foldable for that matter, as we don't expect to see them until 2020 or 2021.
Instead, Apple is gearing up to release the new iPhone 11 series this year, and it's possible (but unlikely) a 5G phone will be among them, so stay tuned to TechRadar for all the latest news on Apple, foldable phones, 5G and more.
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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.