Analyst: Apple is working on a ‘foldable’ iPhone for 2020

Bank of America Merrill Lynch says Apple is working with its Asian partners on a foldable phone for 2020, reports CNBC.

"We expect the iPhones this fall to be largely unchanged for the OLED versions although size changes have proved to be a catalyst in the past," analyst Wamsi Mohan wrote in a note to clients. "Our checks also suggest that Apple is working with suppliers on a foldable phone (that potentially could double up as a tablet) for launch in 2020.”

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In 2016, Apple was granted a patent (number 9,504,170) for “flexible display devices” that hints at future “foldable” iPhones — and perhaps iPads, as well. In the patent filing, the company says that “it would be desirable to use flexible display technology to provide improved electronic devices.”

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Electronic devices may be provided that contain multiple housing portions. The housing portions may be coupled together using hinges. The hinges may include hinges based on a three-bar linkage, hinges based on a four-bar linkage, hinges with slotted members, hinges formed from flexible support structures, and hinges based on flexible housing structures. Flexible displays may be mounted to the housing portions overlapping the hinges. 

“When the housing portions in a device are rotated relative to each other, the flexible display may bend. The hinge may be configured to allow the flexible display to be placed in a front-to-front configuration in which an active side of the display faces itself or a back-to-back configuration. Engagement structures may be used to help the housing grip external objects and to hold the housing portions together. The hinges may be provided with rotational detents to help hold the flexible display in desired positions.”

And last year, LG Display purportedly created a task force to develop a foldable OLED screen for an upcoming iPhone model.

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