Photo Source: Patently Apple
A folding iPhone is not right around the corner, but that doesn’t mean that Apple is going to let their competition have all the limelight. There has been a lot of conjecture about will they or won’t they make their own entry in the newest tech competition this week, and now we have a new patent showing that the company is still thinking about and working on this new product category.
According to Patently Apple, the company has filed a new patent application describing a unique method for dealing with the potential for cracking where a foldable glass screen would bend. According to the submission, Apple would implement small heating elements to warm the glass at the fold, making it a little more flexible. It is a unique and interesting idea that could make future foldable glass screens more practical.
This is a good time to point out that the initial entries in the new foldable phone market all have old-school plastic screens. This is a necessary evil for the time being, but still….yuck. I remember what smartphones with plastic screens were like. I equate them with resistive styli. They both went away for good reasons. As such, I’m sure things will progress quickly in this new device category and all of the screens will be glass before we all know it.
Speaking of which, we also had a report from Wired a few days ago that one of Apple’s partners is working on just such a screen. Corning, well known for their Gorilla Glass that is very common across the smartphone industry, is now working on a screen that will be only 0.1 millimeters thick, but can bend up to 5 millimeters. This feels more like breaking than bending the laws of physics, but I’ll take it.
The article is pretty interesting and shows that, while bendable glass may sound like an oxymoron, it is actually not that far out of reach for Corning and their primary competition. There is definitely a lot of time and effort being spent solving this problem and the first glass company that gets there will reap plenty of rewards.
Brian Barrett of Wired thinks that foldable phones won’t become a mainstream success until the screens are made of glass, and I have to agree, And you can bet hard, cold cash that Apple won’t be entering this market until they can put a glass screen on a folding iPhone. That said, it’s good to see it isn’t that far away.
Again, a folding iPhone isn’t coming any time soon. Based on the comments from Corning in the Wired article, it will likely be two years out, at least. However, you can bet that we will keep seeing patent filings, leaks and reports proving that Apple is doing their homework and putting in the effort to make a foldable device worthy of the iPhone name.