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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Apple’s Patents Hint at Clamshell Foldable with Unique Hinge Design

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In Short:

Apple is falling behind its competitors in the foldable smartphone market. Rumors suggest Apple is working on a 20-inch foldable MacBook and delaying the iPhone to focus on foldables. A patent for a compact foldable device with a unique hinge design has been published. Apple’s hinge design appears to be thicker and more complex than current foldable smartphones. Apple unveiled the Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset at WWDC 2023.

Apple Working on Foldable MacBook with 20-Inch Display

Apple seems to be lagging behind other smartphone brands in the foldable category. While other brands already have foldable devices in their lineup, Apple has yet to launch or even showcase its first foldable device. Recent rumors suggest that Apple is working on larger foldable devices, with the latest report pointing towards the development of a foldable MacBook laptop with a 20-inch display. It has also been rumored that Apple’s iPhone has been delayed until 2027, with Vision Pro staff now reportedly focusing on the foldable device instead.

Older Patent Suggests Apple is Working on Clamshell Foldable Designs

An older patent (US 20240147644 A1) filed last year and published by the USPTO on May 2, 2024, hints at Apple’s work on foldable devices. According to a report by Patently Apple, the patent reveals an interesting hinge design suitable for a smaller or compact foldable, possibly a Plus or Max-sized iPhone or an iPad Mini. Apple refers to the device as something that could be a cellular phone, computer, or portable electronic device.

Unique Hinge Design and Mechanism

Every foldable device relies on a hinge mechanism and a foldable display. Apple’s design appears to be similar to existing foldable smartphones, featuring chassis halves held together by synchronised gear plates with interlocked teeth. The patented design includes interconnected links to restrict rotation, making the mechanism more complex than others in the market.

Challenges for Apple’s Foldable Design

Apple’s hinge design appears thicker and more complex than current foldable smartphones, which could make it more suitable for a foldable iPad rather than an iPhone. Designing a hinge for a larger tablet or laptop would present fewer challenges compared to an iPhone due to different requirements for IP ratings.

Apple’s Future in Foldables

While Apple has yet to release its own foldable device, the company’s patents and rumored developments suggest a growing interest in the foldable market. As competition in the foldable space intensifies, all eyes are on Apple to see how they will innovate in this evolving technology.

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