KEY POINTS

  • Various tech companies are working on smartphones with flexible displays
  • A new patent application shows Apple is interested in creating one such device
  • However, Apple's device doesn't fold in any way but instead expands

A new patent application reveals that Cupertino tech giant Apple is working on a new device that features an expandable display.

Samsung and other tech companies such as Motorola have each released entries into the foldable smartphone market. These devices make use of a flexible display to allow users to fold and unfold the device when necessary. While these devices offer unique benefits to users, it's a fact that some of them are either bulky (like the Galaxy Fold) or do not have enough screen estate (like the Razr).

A new patent application shows that Apple is looking into creating a device with a display that can be expanded at will. The patent application, spotted by Patently Apple, noted that the company is planning on making a device that's not very bulky but still capable of giving users a wider viewing area.

What is this new invention?

In the patent application titled “Electronic Devices Having Sliding Expandable Displays,” some of Apple's inventors described a device with a flexible display that could be expanded to offer wider screen estate, which could have various uses.

Apple iPhone expand Apple is looking into creating an iPhone that features an expanding display. Photo: Apple/USPTO

The inventors noted that current smartphones might not have enough screen estate to be able to “display information of interest to a user,” such as when watching a video via Netflix or Apple TV+. While wider displays are desirable for such cases, equipping a mobile device with a larger screen might not be desirable as it could result in devices becoming “too bulky.”

The inventors propose, via the patent application, that in order for a device to offer large screen estate while still being handy enough to be taken anywhere, it will need to be equipped with an expandable display made of “flexible organic light-emitting diode” (or flexible OLED). This display panel will be placed in a specially-designed casing featuring “portions that slide relative to each other.”

The wider display can allow users to enjoy applications and uses that they normally cannot with a regular smartphone display. This includes, but is not limited to, watching videos, reading webpages and so on.

The patent application provides an in-depth explanation regarding how the wider display can avoid wrinkles and other issues, such as those that plague current foldables. Those who want to see the patent can proceed here.