Apple Exploring Viability of Foldable Devices With Touch-Sensitive Chassis

Apple has been awarded yet another patent for a foldable device, with the latest embodiment featuring a clamshell design with touch-sensitive areas on the sides that serve as virtual buttons (via CNBC).

Foldable iPhone 2023 Feature Yellow
Filed by Apple in April 2021 and approved this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the new patent explores ideas for "Electronic Devices With Display and Touch Sensor Structures" and envisions how parts of a device could work as input surfaces to augment the display or for use when the display is folded up.

In one example, the patent describes how display layers and touch sensor layers could be "overlapped" in a device's outer panels, and how the touch sensors could go under a glass layer along the front, bottom, and "curved sidewalls" of a device, suggesting the potential for touch input across the entire outer chassis of a clamshell-style enclosure.

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Elsewhere in another example, the patent describes "wrapping a display around some or all of the device," where the curved sidewalls would house touch-sensitive layers, allowing them to work as camera controls, volume sliders, and other functions.

The patent is fueling fresh speculation that Apple's first foldable device is getting nearer to launch. The company has been working on foldable display technology for some years now, filing multiple foldable-related patents. Analyst ‌Ming-Chi Kuo‌ said last year that Apple is actively testing a foldable display, although he believes Apple's first foldable device may be a hybrid ‌iPhone‌ and ‌iPad‌, or simply a foldable ‌iPad‌. More recently, Kuo said that Apple is preparing to launch a foldable iPad with a carbon fiber kickstand in 2024.

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Display analyst Ross Young said last year that Apple's long-rumored foldable ‌iPhone‌ has been delayed until 2025. The news of the delay reportedly came after discussions with supply chain sources, suggesting that Apple has been conducting due diligence to ascertain the viability of bringing such a product to market anytime soon.

Top Rated Comments

MacWiz_007 Avatar
5 weeks ago
Disclaimer: if you are not someone who uses a mini tablet/tablet along with a cell phone often and would appreciate having both devices in one, this post is not for you.

I was skeptical at first regarding foldables as well, until I traded in my iPhone 12 Pro Max for the Z Fold 3. I couldn't wait any longer for Apple to release a foldable phone and I was using my iPhone and iPad Mini all the time so I figured it would be great to have a 2 in 1. I have the Z Fold 4 now and I will never go back to a traditional slab phone. I love having a cell phone and mini tablet in one pocketable device. I prefer having the Z Fold 4 in my pocket over the iPhone Pro Max, as the iPhone Pro Max is too wide to be comfortable. The Z Fold 4 is a multi-tasking beast as well. I believe Apple will make a great foldable phone, and if/when they do I will consider coming back to iOS. If you are on the fence at all, give a foldable a try. It is impossible to understand how great they are unless you've owned one. You can always return it, if you don't like it. Android has come a long way over the past 4-5 years, and this is coming from someone who used to absolutely despise it. I found that Android 12 and 13 to be just as stable as iOS, which has gone downhill drastically over the past 3-4 years. For reference, I had owned every iPhone from the 4 to the 12. Food for thought anyway ?

Side note: I had a Z Flip 4 as a backup phone and it was not good. I just don't understand the appeal of this type of foldable. Having to unfold it all the time for pretty much anything you want to do. It was a huge no-go for me anyway. To each their own though of course.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacWiz_007 Avatar
5 weeks ago

I remain confused by the allure foldable screens have over people.
It's simple really. It is nice having cell phone and a mini tablet in one device that can easily fit in your pocket.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ? Avatar
5 weeks ago
Not interested and too gimmicky! Still doesn’t look appealing to me.

How about bringing back the classic 3D Touch instead?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
icanhazmac Avatar
5 weeks ago
I have no use for this. Just about everything Apple makes has a great screen experience so no, I won't be buying anything with an ugly folded seam running down the middle.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
epox999 Avatar
5 weeks ago
Seems like a solution to a problem that doesn't exist?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
1885507 Avatar
5 weeks ago
I remain confused by the allure foldable screens have over people.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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