LG Electronics has been awarded a new folding smartphone patent that differs quite a bit from past designs thanks to an extendable hinge. The overall concept isn't wildly different from Samsung's folding handset designs, which also shows a phone to be folded that can completely fold in half with the screen facing inward. It would also apparently allow for various stand-like configurations for hands-free viewing or photography. Hinges are shown in two different styles but the primary concern seems to be how the handset will handle the forces exerted on the exterior of a folded device. The links allow expansion along the outside edge in order to relieve pressure on both display and display backing. The two styles include on that seems to resemble a watchband hinge, complete with springs to allow for some separation when folded. The other design centers on a rolling style which would have a similar effect. In either case, magnets built into the device would prevent it from opening unintentionally. Both include a kind of locking mechanism when the handset is opened in order to prevent accidental folding.
Beyond that, the patent images show novel solutions for the placement of cameras, speakers, and microphones in order to better suit additional configurations. Namely, there are two mics and speakers. Those would be placed toward the left and right-hand outer portion of the handset when held in landscape mode. The camera is mounted on the exterior near the center folding section. That would make it possible for users to lock the device on the edge of a pocket, as shown in the images, using the would-be LG device as a kind of personal body-cam. It would also allow photos to be snapped without ever opening the handset up or without opening it completely for use as a stand-based camera.
Other components, meanwhile, are split into two sections with separate boards and what appear to be ribbon-connectors stretched between. All of that is internalized with the hinge materials being all that appears on the exterior of the handset. That should make it easier for LG to protect the components from the damage likely caused by repeated folding if the company ever moves forward with a real-world design based on the patent.