Samsung Electronics' tryst with a foldable smartphone is no longer a secret. We have heard countless rumors about the phone over the past couple of years. Samsung has also been filing one after another patents for the design of the phone, tentatively called the Galaxy X. And the company is not going to stop anytime soon. Samsung has now patented one more design for its foldable phone, this time an folding-out one!
Discovered by Patently Mobile, Samsung was granted the patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on February 28. Since its a design patent, it doesn't reveal any technology, specifications or materials, but only the diagrams depicting the design.
The illustrations in the latest patent hint at a foldable smartphone with a new hinge configuration we've never seen before. The design seems to take on a "fold-out" form factor, somewhat similar to the recently launched ZTE Axon M. However, the biggest difference, that completely separates out this design from the ZTE phone, is the display unit. Samsung’s patent shows one large foldable display folding out at the middle, unlike the ZTE phone, which uses two separate displays for its foldout design.
Though one should never take these patents for granted, they do help us peek into the ideas explored by the company. Not just patents, Samsung has also started officially commenting on the foldable smartphone project at various forums. Last September, Samsung CEO DJ Koh had said that the company is planning to launch its first foldable smartphone in 2018. He further confirmed that at the recently concluded World Mobile Congress (MWC), though he refused to offer any launch time frame. He assured that Samsung is making progress on the device and added that it won’t be just a gimmick.
“I need complete confidence that we’re delivering the best user experience when we’re launching a new category,” he said.
The "fold-out" smartphone design isn't the only patent awarded by USPTO to Samsung on Wednesday. There's also a design patent for a smartphone without any physical buttons or ports. The design does give a blemishless look to the phone, with a completely clean exterior. But is it practically possible? Only time will tell.
The last design patent awarded to Samsung is for a "Wearable Electronic Device." The top surface forms a wraparound display, which would certainly blur the line between a smartphone and a smartwatch. But again, there's no details about the materials or mechanics used with this wearable band.
Will any of these patents ever make their way into a real product, only time will tell. Meanwhile, you can have a look at more of these design diagrams at Patently Mobile.