Designs on a foldable mobile phone cast spotlight on LG

Credit: LG patent

Smartphone watchers are wagging tongues over what could possibly be up with Korea-based LG in what looks like bright ideas for a foldable phone.

Their foldable design captured attention this month; the patent was seen on January 12 (made public on January 12) but initially filed in July 2017. Its illustrations show what LG's foldable phone could be, in two flavors.

The patent was filed to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Spotted by GSMinfo, the patent explained that "this is a design for a mobile phone with a flexible which can be folded in half."

Writing in Mashable, Raymond Wong called up some interesting features. (1) In one of the images, you can see how a phone folds open into a tablet. (2) In another drawing, there are cutouts for cameras.

The Verge said the phone morphs into a tablet. Thuy Ong, news writer, described the patent as showing "a potential folding hybrid tablet and phone device."

The patent shows two versions of the potential phone.

Version one? A camera component is on the back panel, and the time display is on the front screen. Joe Maring in Android Central also described version one: "You get a full, tablet-like display when the phone is open, but when you close it, you end up with a very narrow candy-bar shape. A second screen on the front shows information like the time and weather when it's closed, and on the back is a camera module."

Credit: LG patent

Ong called out features of version two. "The second design is similar, except when the phone is folded, its rear cover is pushed to one side revealing a transparent section on the front right-hand side. That sidebar section could be used to display the time and notifications, for example. The rear of the device also has a camera module."

One thing is clear; smartphones are getting boring in terms of real design innovations and the very concept of a foldable teases much interest. Beyond looking cool, inviting conversations with strangers on the train or just feeling as if you part of the innovative new generation, are you looking at anything useful?

This is a question asked before and as it turns out there are several reasons given by those who support foldable phone designs.

Jessica Dolcourt in CNET last year: "Folding a device gives you a smaller, more portable package to carry around—it can essentially double the size of your screen."

It's also suggested that producing some phone parts this way could eventually make the phones cheaper to build.

Interest won't fade. Android Central referred to "The slow march to a foldable smartphone future." Joe Maring said, "The mobile industry has been dreaming about folding smartphones for years."

"Foldable phones seem to be the holy grail for manufacturers," wrote Ong.

Patent watchers are quick to say filings, including this one, are no guarantee the ideas will be materialized into products on the shelf. Android Headlines said, nonetheless, that "LG has not been shy when it comes to new technology or ideas, regarding its smartphone lineup. The Seoul-based company has experimented with bent displays, additional displays, removal of a dedicated power button, and several other trials."

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