Apple patent describes hinge mechanism for foldable iPhones

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Apple may have started laying the groundwork for foldable iPhones. A newly published patent application from the company describes a hinge mechanism for a foldable phone. It seemingly allows the device to fold both inwards and outwards. It is unclear if Apple will use this hinge on its first foldable iPhone expected to arrive in 2026.

Apple patent shows a dual-folding hinge for foldable iPhones

Titled “Hinges for Folding Devices,” Apple filed this patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in October 2023. The USPTO approved and published the patent last week. It is about a hinge mechanism for foldable devices with a screen that can fold in both directions, i.e., inwards and outwards.

The official description says, “A foldable display device may have housing portions coupled by a hinge. […] The hinge may have gear plates with interlocked teeth that synchronize rotational movement between [the] left and right halves of the hinge. The hinge may also have asymmetric friction clips that impose different amounts of rotational friction to the hinge depending on the direction of rotation of the hinge.”

Sketches provided by Apple appear to show a clamshell-type foldable phone like Samsung’s Flip series and Motorola’s Razr series, though the company also hints at the possibility of using the same hinge mechanism in other types of foldable products such as tablets. We don’t have much information about the device. However, Apple’s wording suggests the hinge can allow it to fold in either direction.

This could be a game-changer for the foldable industry. While we have seen a few outward-folding phones, like the Honor V Purse, the market is dominated by inward-folding devices. If Apple manages to make its first foldable iPhone a dual-folding device, it might usher the industry in a new direction. Plenty of time before the product starts taking shape, though. The company is still in the early stages of its development.

Apple could first launch a foldable tablet/laptop hybrid

Apple’s first foldable product may not be an iPhone. There are rumors about the company making a foldable tablet/laptop hybrid. It would feature a large screen that can be used as a laptop when folded from the middle. The bottom half of the screen will show a virtual keyboard and track pad while the top half will be your laptop’s display. It remains to be seen whether this product materializes ahead of a foldable iPhone.

Apple foldable iphone hinge patent

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