Samsung has been awarded yet another patent for a folding device, with this latest changing things up a bit from its previous designs. Filed internationally under U.S. patent number US20170351297, the new design shows an electronic device – presumably a smartphone, based on example drawings included with the patent – which can be folded into multiple different configurations based on use case. It is also much more akin to ZTE's Axon M than previous Samsung folders, as it is comprised of two separate screens embedded in metal frames that are connected at the center by what the patent documents call a "coupling." That connector allows the device to be folded open into a larger display with a gap along the center, folded out so that the device features a screen at the front and the back, or folded in so that the screens are facing each other to protect against damage.
It is, as always, important to bear in mind that this patent could ultimately not be used by Samsung either in part or in full. So none of the patented designs aspects are necessarily set in stone or necessarily going to appear in a real-world device, even if Samsung chooses to implement a device following the overall basis of the patent. With that said, the associated documents, including descriptions of some internal components, are very interesting. For starters, the documents suggest that any connectivity antennas built into a device using the patent will be embedded or incorporated into the frame of the displays. That will, in theory, prevent at least the bulk of interference that it would be possible for the device itself to cause from degrading signal integrity. Further still, if this patent does point to a smartphone, the patent drawings include charts showing that the design allows for all of the sensors and radios that would be expected, with a few additions.
Namely, the charts hint that a device could be built using the patent that includes support for Samsung's S Pen, with a pen sensor being listed under the Input Device heading. Moreover, the list of sensors includes a biometric sensor, which could hint at fingerprint scanner support or support for the health monitoring sensors Samsung has included in previous flagship devices. With that said, until Samsung reveals something official related to this patent, there's no way of knowing if any of the design queues featured in patent US20170351297 will ever be realized. As of this writing, there are no known Samsung devices bearing any resemblance to the device shown in the patents and it isn't immediately clear how the market will respond to these kinds of folding devices.