Apple's Foldable iPhone, iPad Could Protect Its Display From Drops, New Patent Suggests

Foldable displays and rollable displays made with ultra-thin glass can be vulnerable to falls.

Apple's Foldable iPhone, iPad Could Protect Its Display From Drops, New Patent Suggests

Photo Credit: Apple

Apple filed new patents for foldable devices

Highlights
  • Apple is said to be working on an iPad model with a foldable display
  • The patent has been submitted to USPTO
  • Foldable devices can use a sensor to detect vertical acceleration

Apple could join the fray of Samsung, Oppo, and Motorola by launching a foldable smartphone around 2025. Ahead of it, the Cupertino giant has filed a patent for a new technology that would protect iPhone and iPad models with flexible screens from getting damaged even when dropped from a height. With this latest technology, devices would be able to detect while they're falling and immediately fold up on the way to the ground to minimize damages. As per the patent, folding the display to an angle less the 180 degrees can afford some protection for the devices.

As initially spotted by Patently Apple, Apple has filed for a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that indicates new safety features for the screens of iPhone and iPad units. The patent titled "Self-Retracting Display Device And Techniques For Protecting Screen Using Drop Detection" refers to a motorised folding device mechanism that could partially or fully close a foldable device, prior to hitting the ground in a drop event to protect its display.

The foldable displays and rollable displays made with ultra-thin glass can be vulnerable to falls and the proposed technology would be advantageous to control the damages by closing the device to protect its display.

"Mobile devices with foldable and rollable displays can use a sensor to detect vertical acceleration (e.g., acceleration with respect to the ground) to determine if the mobile device has been dropped," said the patent application. "If the sensor detects that the mobile device has been dropped... the foldable device can retract at least partially to afford protection from the fragile display from striking the ground" it added.

As per the patent application, folding the display to an angle less the 180 degrees can also even afford some protection. "The electronic device can include a release mechanism operating with the roller to automatically retract the foldable display on the roller when the detected vertical acceleration exceeds a predetermined acceleration threshold" it added.

In addition to the detailed description of the new technology, the listing on the USPTO website includes some schematics to suggest how the modifications would work.

Apple has not revealed any details about the new patent or release of an iPhone or iPad with a foldable display. The patented technologies may just be used for prototyping. So, all these details should be considered with a pinch of salt.


Apple launched the iPad Pro (2022) and the iPad (2022) alongside the new Apple TV this week. We discuss the company's latest products, along with our review of the iPhone 14 Pro on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
 
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Nithya P Nair
Nithya P Nair is a journalist with more than five years of experience in digital journalism. She specialises in business and technology beats. A foodie at heart, Nithya loves exploring new places (read cuisines) and sneaking in Malayalam movie dialogues to spice up conversations. More
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