Apple patent details rollable iPhone plans — isn't this just an electronic Yodel?

Yodel vs Rollable
(Image credit: Drake, Apple)

It's no secret that Apple has taken its time introducing the popular foldable screen feature to iPhone devices. After all, the original Samsung Galaxy Fold launched all the way back in 2019, and just this year, Google introduced its Pixel Fold, yet we haven't heard a peep about an "iPhone Fold" from Apple itself. 

Of course, rumors are circulating throughout the internet that Apple continues to test different flip and fold prototypes, but nothing has made it through the cracks quite yet. But Apple recently filed a new patent detailing its plans to implement electronic devices with rollable displays instead. And after reading this detailed patent, I can't help but wonder, what is the use case for this thing?

Apple's Rollable iPhone could become a reality

Apple's patent goes in-depth describing how this would work, explaining how the display can shift from an unrolled to a rolled state for storage. Images in the patent showcase the phone rolling within itself, enlarging its radius and resulting it in looking like a tootsie roll of sorts. 

Apple claims that this "rolled state" is for storage, but the use case is somewhat difficult to imagine. Pockets perfectly accommodate the flat nature of a phone. Just imagine stuffing a rolled up Drake Yodel cake right into your pocket, with it jutting out awkwardly.

Foldable technology makes sense because two screens are closing in on one another to create another flat object. It's admittedly a little thicker as a result, but it's still flat, making it perfect for fitting in pockets and bags. There are probably very specific use cases for why having a rollable phone is convenient, but until those are shown and proven to actually be practical, it sounds like a gimmick more than anything right now.

Apple rollable phone

(Image credit: Apple)

What's especially fascinating about this technology is that it is seemingly more difficult to get right than a foldable or flip phone. Whereas foldable phones utilize a single hinge point, every inch of this will need to be bendable for it to roll up. Apple has certainly taken on a fascinating challenge, with the patent claiming that a polymer will protect the glass while this happens.

Patents aren't confirmation that a company will actually create a device utilizing the technology, but they make it clear that a group of designers has put a lot of thought into its conceptualization. In the future, it's possible that we'll see it come to light if Apple believes it's worth investing in. It's also not an idea that sprung up recently; the company filed the provisional application back in January last year with further proof that suggests it's been in development since 2017.

Regardless, I'm fascinated to see if something along the lines of the "iPhone Roll" gets introduced over the course of the next few years. It is a bizarre and bewildering idea, but who knows, if anyone can pull it off, Apple probably can.

Momo Tabari
Contributing Writer

Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Momo finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Momo is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.