Apple is working on a foldable phone of its own, new patents reveal, as just about every major handset company launches bendy products.
A future iPhone could be hinged in the middle, according to the patents, allowing it to be folded up small and then opened again to allow the screen to be larger.
The handset is just one of a range of bendy phones being worked on by companies. While Samsung's "Galaxy X" is the most famous – and has been shown off in the most detail – just about every major company is working on its own foldable handset.
Apple is not thought to be releasing a rival model any time soon, and the new iPhones it is set to release in September will keep the same form factor as the existing line-up. But the new patents show it has been considered for a future design.
It suggests the phone could use a set of hinges that will mount flexible displays together, allowing them to bend. It could be twisted around to allow the different parts of the phone so that the screen touches itself, for instance, or so that both parts of the screen are on the outside.
The patent filing includes a full 24 images, showing different ways the phones could bend. And they don't apply only to iPhones – with features that could work for iPads or even Macs shown as well.
For instance, one shows the screen bent so that it is sitting in a pyramid shape. That means two people sitting across from each other could be looking at the same display.
If Apple does not release its new bendy phone until 2020 or later, it is likely to be late. Samsung's foldable phone is due to be released in the coming weeks, and other companies are already preparing their own rivals.
Other companies have chosen to sit out of the growing trend, however. LG has said that it will not release a foldable phone just yet, and that it was "too early" for the devices.
It might also be that Apple does not reveal a foldable phone at all. The company regularly files patents for products that never actually make it to market, or arrive in a completely different form.
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