An Apple patent filing reveals what a foldable iPhone might look like

iPhone teenGonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

  • A new Apple patent filing outlines what a folding display on the iPhone might look like.
  • It comes just as Samsung is due to show off its own foldable phone.
  • It's unlikely we'll see a folding iPhone in the next year, but the filing shows Apple is at least thinking about what it's competitors are up to.

Apple has sketched out designs for a foldable smartphone, suggesting the iPhone maker is at least thinking about following its major rivals in launching a phone with a flexible display.

The designs appear in a patent filing published on February 14, just as Samsung is preparing to show off its first ever foldable phone at a launch event on Wednesday.

Read more: A Galaxy S10 Plus commercial appears to have accidentally aired on TV ahead of Samsung's official announcement

The filing gives technical details about how a hinged, foldable display would work, and shows rough sketches of devices that fold in half, or fold into thirds.

Apple foldable iPhoneA foldable device with three sectionsUS Patent Office/Apple

The filing states that it isn't just smartphones that could function with a foldable display, but also laptops, tablets, smartwatches, and even headphones.

Apple foldable iPhoneApple's patent filings show a device that can fold in halfUS Patent Office/Apple

These aren't the first patent filings to hint at a bendy iPhone. In 2016, a fairly wacky patent filing hinted at an iPhone with a wraparound display.

The latest filing doesn't necessarily mean Apple will launch a foldable iPhone in the near future. The filing is just an application, and it hasn't been granted by the US Patent Office yet. Tech firms often patent futuristic ideas and designs that never see the light of day.

Still, Apple is the only major smartphone manufacturer not talking about foldable phones. Huawei confirmed it was working on a 5G foldable phone, and Samsung is expected to show off a foldable phone alongside its flagship Galaxy S10 on Wednesday.

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