In short: Chinese electronics manufacturer OPPO is experimenting with foldable devices designed as smartphone-tablet hybrids, according to newly published patent documentation reviewed by AndroidHeadlines. While the company already envisioned several bendable devices, its focus most recently fell on a form factor that resembles that of the ZTE Axon M, i.e. includes a hinge and a handset that opens as a booklet. Besides a traditional hinge assembly, the contraption also utilizes a rotation mechanism supporting a flexible display panel which is likely of the OLED variety. The mechanism isn't visible from the front given how it's entirely covered by the single display, meaning the concept is based on the idea of a truly foldable device instead of one that simply uses two screens attached to each other, as is the case with the Axon M.
Background: OPPO already protected a similar design in its home country early this year but the newly published patent allows for more screen real estate and is more tablet-like in its folded-out state. Both concepts are understood to be somewhat close to Samsung's first foldable handset that the company is expected to announce in the coming weeks with a hinge of its own, though the Galaxy-branded gadget will be more of a new take on a flip phone than a booklet-style design.
Impact: OPPO's R&D efforts in the foldable smartphone segment suggest Samsung and Huawei won't be the only two manufacturers to introduce bendable electronics in the near future. LG, Xiaomi, and Vivo have all already been rumored to be working on similar solutions but only Samsung and Huawei are expected to launch such devices over the next year or so. Regardless, first-generation foldable handsets will all rely on robust hinges as more elegant solutions remain impossible to manufacture with any sensible yield rate or durability for the time being.