Rumors have swirled for quite some time that Samsung is working on flexible, curved, foldable and other unique form factors of smartphones. Some of the purported designs have been downright outlandish while some are more practical. Samsung has never officially confirmed or denied most of these designs, instead wanting to watch from afar as consumers dreamed on. Samsung has been mostly tight-lipped about new designs but now, we’re getting our first semi-official looks at Samsung’s newest design ideas through their patent filings.
The first one shown off is similar to a scroll, with a round design that can be pulled out to show a flat sheet. A tab on the side of the cylinder seems to show a menu of sorts, while the main screen, once pulled out, will likely be used to show app content. On the tab stuck to the cylinder, various apps and icons are shown. Presumably, when the user chooses an app, it will show up on the main screen when unfurled.
The next patent in line shows a smartphone concept that’s similar to the scroll concept, with a central bar with icons that the user can choose from when opening the screen. This concept, unlike the scroll, folds outward twice to open up to roughly the size of a small tablet. Much like the scroll, the filing implies that whatever icon the user puts their thumb on while unrolling the smartphone is what will show up on the fully unrolled screen.
The third patent in the batch depicts a smartphone concept that folds out with a hinge in the center, seemingly employing a flexible display to provide full coverage when unfolded rather than having a gap on the hinge as seen on the Kyocera Echo of years past. What seems to be shown here is a somewhat traditional candybar smartphone in the folded mode, with the hinge off to the side. When folded, it has a squarish screen, but unfolds to a more traditional rectangular design.
The last and arguably most interesting design shows a smartphone that can be bent over. The flexible phone is only shown in one position, so it’s unknown for now if this implies a preset bend that folds the device in half or if it will be flexible throughout, allowing users to fold it how they please. It’s admittedly fairly mind-blowing to think of a tri-folding, watch face sized smartphone that unfolds to roughly the size of a small tablet, but flexible display tech may just be at or near that level at this point.
The new designs are sure to have consumers and analysts alike guessing at new features and use cases, but with these only being concepts, the final designs will likely be drastically different. Samsung did not give a date that any of the designs may be seen in the wild, implying this is still a far future affair. With these patents, Samsung is set to lead the pack in new form factors.