LG Electronics has been rather active on the intellectual property front in recent days, having moved to protect a number of terms that are speculated to be the potential candidates for the name of its first foldable Android smartphone which the company already confirmed is in the works. As originally reported by Dutch tech blog LetsGoDigital, the company filed to trademark the names Duplex, Foldi, Flex, Solid, Solidis, XB, and XF. Some of those monikers are more clearly indicative of a foldable handset than others, though most seem to signal the South Korean technology juggernaut is preparing to establish at least one entirely new product lineup in the near future.
All of the trademarks have also bes en explicitly filed in the context of the smartphone industry, with LG submitting its applications with the European Union Intellectual Property Office. Apart from the Flex and X monikers, the rest of the new trademark wave pertains to names LG hasn't used for commercial purposes in the past. The Flex and Foldi filings are seemingly straightforward candidates for LG's first bendable handset, whereas the rest are somewhat vaguer. As is the case with every IP filing from a major electronics manufacturer, there are still no guarantees LG will be commercializing any of the monikers it now resolved to trademark in the future.
Background: Five years ago, the Seoul-based smartphone maker launched the LG G Flex, the world's first mainstream handset with a curved screen and body. Its P-OLED panel was impressed many a reviewer, though the device itself failed to achieve significant commercial success. LG followed up on the seminal gadget with the G Flex2 that debuted in early 2015, but after that product also received a lukewarm response from consumers, the company shuttered its flexible panel efforts. In the meantime, Samsung has been pursuing a similar project, having first introduced a curved-screen phone in the form of the Galaxy S6 Edge in April of 2015. LG's Korean rival continues to iterate on that design to this date and has shown no indication of moving away from curved mobile panels in the near future.
The XB and XF trademarks also suggest LG will be continuing its entry-level X series of Android handsets which it established in 2016 with the X Screen, followed by X Cam and X Power. The majority of the lineup hasn't been refreshed since then as only the X Power received a follow-up in the form of the X Power2 launched in mid-2017. A month earlier, the manufacturer also debuted the LG X Venture, a rugged low-end smartphone with IP68-certified resistance to dust particles and water, as well as a body made in accordance with the MIL-STD 810G military durability standard. Both the Solid and Solidis monikers may be indicative of another new rugged device being in the works, though the chances of LG committing resources to such a niche product category remain somewhat dubious. The firm's contemporary flagships are both IP68 and MIL-STD-810G-certified, even though they aren't advertised as rugged. Still, LG's recent financial reports suggest the firm saw some success with value-oriented devices, so a continuation of the X series in some shape or form certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility.
LG is far from the only original equipment manufacturer that's currently pursuing foldable handsets and almost certainly won't be the first to commercialize such devices. Both Samsung and Huawei are believed to be closer to releasing bendable smartphones than LG, with the Chinese company recently filing to trademark a number of potential names it could attach to those products, according to IP documentation reviewed by AndroidHeadlines. The source material in question suggests the first foldable phone from Huawei will be Mate-branded, with two of its potential names — Flex and Flexi — being similar to one of the monikers LG is currently considering. Whether that state of affairs could be indicative of a trademark dispute further down the road remains to be seen, though the general nature of the word flex and its derivatives may eventually see it become as omnipresent as the terms "pro" and "plus" are in today's smartphone market.
In a recent interview with AndroidHeadlines, an LG official asserted the company is striving to make the world's "most interesting" foldable smartphone instead of being the first to release such a device but declined to provide many details on the matter. The company's bendable handset project is believed to revolve around yet another P-OLED panel and much like Samsung and Huawei, LG is presumably seeking to launch such a handset as yet another flagship alternative. Seeing how flexible screens already have high production costs associated with them, which will consequently make the first several generations of such devices extremely expensive, manufacturers see little point in equipping them with anything but the very best of specs which themselves don't affect the final price as much as bendable panels do.
Impact: The fact that LG is already filing to trademark potential names for its first foldable smartphone suggests the company may be commercializing such a device in the immediate future. The latest development is in line with the company's own statements on the matter that indicated its seminal bendable handset may be released as early as the second half of 2019. LG and Huawei's recent trademark filings also suggest the word "flex" may eventually become as ubiquitous in the smartphone market as the "plus" and "pro" monikers are today.
What's still unclear is how exactly will LG's first foldable device look like and what kind of functionalities will its unique form factor enable. The entire industry is presently moving toward commercializing bendable mobile screens and Samsung already presented its Infinity Flex panel earlier this month, stating that the module in question will be part of its first foldable device. LG's plans are less clear, though the firm will most likely be basing its folding handset on its P-OLED technologies that it's been perfecting for over half a decade now. LG may share more details on its bendable phone project come MWC 2019 that's kicking off in late February.