More evidence of Motorola possibly developing a flexible smartphone emerged earlier this week when a patent application was published by the USPTO, describing some of the technologies that could be required for the creation of this type of device. The application was submitted by Motorola Mobility May of 2017 and published by the agency only a couple of days ago along with various sketches depicting the concept. Primarily, the patent application seems to focus more on hinge technology rather than the flexible display itself. Previously, Motorola also applied for a patent describing a solution involving heat, designed to combat permanent screen damage resulted from repeated folding, which is an issue that OEMs who have an interest in developing flexible smartphones will likely have to tackle before they’ll be able to commercialize their products.
Although the new sketches are quite detailed and basically depict a flip phone form factor along with a single large panel running across the face of the device, the design is likely still abstract and might not describe a final product, but rather some of the technologies required to eventually achieve one. Nevertheless, the flexible flip phone shown in the images seen below seems to sport a rear-facing camera carried by the upper half of the device, and what seems to be a loudspeaker at the bottom. The sketches also mention an “optional flex sensor” tied to the application processor, which could play a role in determining whether or not the phone is unfolded. One image in particular also shows a home screen featuring a search bar at the top and app shortcuts at the bottom, however, the UI is vastly different from Motorola’s usual Android skin used in ongoing devices, which closely resembles Google’s standard software. But once again, the UI is likely abstract and might not be representative of a final product, although it wouldn’t be too outlandish to consider the idea that a new generation of flexible smartphones could require OEMs to create proprietary software designed to work with their technologies.
Although the smartphone described in this patent doesn’t carry a moniker, earlier this year Lenovo’s Yang Yuanqing hinted that Motorola’s first flexible handset could carry the Razr nametag. This title is quite significant for the OEM and fans of the brand, as one of the most popular Motorola flip phones of the last decade – and arguably ever - carried this exact same name. Later on, the moniker was borrowed by the company’s first smartphone launched in 2011, which made use of the now-ubiquitous chocolate bar form factor.