Apple could one day cook up a fully flexible iPhone, at least based on a newly granted patent.
Awarded on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent dubbed "flexible electronic devices" describes a mobile device that consists of flexible components both inside and out. As such, users would be able to bend, fold and squeeze the device to perform such functions as opening and closing it, turning it on and off, and even launching certain apps.
The exterior of the device would include a flexible display cover, a flexible housing and other flexible external components. The interior would be outfitted with a flexible OLED display, flexible batteries, flexible circuit boards and flexible electrical components.
Key iPhone rivals already offer curved smartphones, such asand . At CES 2015 on Monday, LG unveiled the , a phone that can flex when you push on the back of it. But truly flexible phones such as the one described in Apple's patent are a ways off. Samsung and LG have both been . Apple's patent shows that the iPhone maker also has its eye on this market.
What benefits would flexible phones offer? For one, your phone would be more likely to survive a fall.
"Flexible electronic devices may be more resistant to damage during impact events, such as drops, because the flexible device may bend or deform while absorbing the impact," Apple said in its patent. "Deformation of this type may increase the duration of an impact, thereby reducing the impulse received by other components of the flexible device."
A flexible phone also would open the door to different types of commands based on how you manipulate it.
"Flexible electronic devices may include flex-sensing components for sensing deformations of the flexible electronic device," Apple noted in the patent. "Deformations of the flexible electronic device that are sensed by flex-sensing components may provide user input to the electronic device. For example, twisting a flexible electronic device may change the operating mode of the device, may be interpreted by the device as a command to an electronic gaming system, may turn the device on or off, etc."
As always, a patent doesn't mean the invention will see the light of day. But with Samsung and LG investigating the possibility of flexible phones, Apple certainly would want to explore this technology as well.