Samsung Patent Tips Foldable Smartphone

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A future Samsung smartphone could use a folding design not unlike that of old flip phones, according to a Korean patent filing.

Images in the patent, reported by Dutch blog Galaxy Club, depict a slab-like device with a bendy connector dividing its upper and lower half, which are of equal size. The connector resembles the hinge on Microsoft's Surface notebook.

A touch screen would cover the entire surface of the device, and it could be folded automatically, The Verge notes. Samsung and other mobile device manufacturers have been showing off their foldable display technology recently, though most designs are still in the early prototype phase and far from commercial production.

Patented features don't always end up in products, of course, and the main engineering challenge of devices with foldable displays is figuring out how to arrange the battery, memory, processor, camera, and other components. When Lenovo showed off its foldable design in June, its engineers explained that figuring out how to position the components away from the hinges while still maintaining the overall integrity of the phone has so far proven elusive.

Samsung's patent appears to describe a screen that bends inwards instead of outwards, so it would likely be easier to implement than one that can bend in either direction. The patent's images suggest that one of the many benefits of a screen that folds inwards at the middle is entering text and watching videos: you could position the phone like a tiny laptop to respond to the occasional text message while watching a YouTube clip, for instance.

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