Apple Flexible iPhone
Future iPhones may have the ability to bend or flex on purpose. Reuters/Stephen Lam

One of the next iPhones could actually bend -- by design. No, it’s not a rehash of the early days of the iPhone 6 Plus' "Bendgate," or if you prefer, "Bendghazi." Instead, Apple is exploring ways to make its next devices more flexible.

Flexible iPhone
An illustration of an iPhone that can purposely bend and flex. USPTO/Apple

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple Inc. on Thursday, titled “Flexible Electronic Devices,” which describes several instances of an electronic device -- including its display -- that can flex and in some cases fold into different shapes and forms. This would enable users to carry around larger devices, such as an iPad, which could then be folded for storage.

Flex iPhone iOS device
In one embodiment, an iOS device could fold into a different formfactor, such as a wallet shape. USPTO/Apple

To accomplish this, many of the components inside the device would have to be flexible, including displays, touch-sensitive layers, display covers, circuit boards and batteries. In one instance Apple proposes OLED display technology, similar to the Youm technology introduced by Samsung in 2013.

Another element of the invention proposes the use of a device’s flexible features to introduce new control gestures, such as twisting the device to turn a device off, launch an app or answer a call.

As with many of Apple’s patent applications, it’s unknown if or when it plans to introduce the technology in its future products. The patent application was filed Jan. 5 and credits Apple engineers Jeremy Franklin, Scott Myers, Stephen Lynch, John Ternus, Justin Wodrich and former Apple engineer Benjamin Rappoport for the invention.