Apple’s new patent application tells us two things — the company could very well be working on a foldable iPhone, and it’s devised a new, fascinating way to protect your screen from serious damage.
Of course, we haven’t had any confirmation or solid reports that Apple is coming anywhere close to releasing a foldable iPhone. But the fact that patent applications like this exist show that the company is definitely thinking about it.
The patent application, dated March 16 (as seen by Business Insider), shows a nifty feature Apple is working on to drastically reduce screen damage if you were to drop your shiny new foldable iPhone.
Using a combination of the device’s accelerometer and a “self-retracting display device,” a release mechanism will trigger when the device is falling at speed to “automatically retract the foldable display.”
Of course, this won’t necessarily be fully capable of snapping shut mid-drop. The distance of the drop will impact this, but the patent application also makes it clear that a display folded to an angle less than 180 degrees “can afford some protection.”
The only part of the phone that would be impacted is the edges around the phone’s display, so to have it not laid flat out when hitting the ground will provide a little more strength.
The last we heard of a foldable iPhone dates back to mid 2022 when analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made some predictions about an 8-inch foldable shipping this year. Now, I’d personally take that with a Scarface-esque mountain of salt, because the calendar of new products for this year seems to be a lock with Apple’s VR headset.
However, this patent application does show that the company is at least working on something. My money would be on a release by 2024 at the earliest. And this fascinating piece of engineering could be a big step forward for protecting incredibly pricey foldables like this.