A foldable iPhone could close and save the screen, the patent shows

Tim Cook visits an Apple store in New York.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

  • The patent application showed that the foldable iPhone could close to protect the screen if dropped.
  • The sensor triggered a mechanism intended to prevent damage to the screen.
  • Apple has not confirmed plans to begin production of a foldable iPhone.

Apple may still be working on a foldable iPhone version, which was first reported back in 2016.

A new patent application seen by Insider, dated March 16, shows that the tech giant is looking at ways to prevent serious damage to the display if the device is dropped.

The application “Self-supporting display device and techniques for protecting the display with drop detection” suggests that the device would have a drop detector or “accelerometer”. It triggered a release mechanism that would “automatically retract the folding screen.”

However, it may not have time to close completely if the device is close to the surface or the ground.

The patent application states that “even folding the screen to less than (less than) 180 degrees can provide some protection because the mobile device may hit the edges of the mobile device instead of the screen itself.”

Image of Apple’s March 16 patent application.
United States Patent and Trademark Office

What do we know about Apple’s foldable iPhone?

Speculations about a foldable iPhone have been circulating online for several years without confirmation from Apple.

It has filed several patent applications that show what the device could look like. One model had a protrusion on the top of the phone to allow the user to access components such as the camera without opening it.

Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight, told CNBC last October that a foldable iPhone would likely sell for around $2,500. That’s almost $1,000 more than the most expensive iPhone, the 14 Pro Max, which costs up to $1,599.

The patent filings don’t mean that Apple plans to start making a foldable iPhone, but they do indicate that the company is still considering the idea.

Flip phones are still a small part of the global smartphone market, with just over 14 million sold last year, according to figures from Canalys. There were approximately 12 million Samsung Galaxy models.

Apple did not immediately respond to Insider’s after-hours request for comment.

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