As suggested by a newly discovered patent owned by Japanese company Sharp, yet another foldable phone could be in the works on the Far East. The patent was apparently filed back in 2017 and although Sharp has so far been quiet regarding its ambitions in the segment, the company might release its foldable phone by the end of this year.
The accompanying images show a horizontally folding phone with a clamshell design. The said form factor is already popular in Sharp's home country of Japan and it could be that the company is cashing in on that popularity by going for an already trending design. Furthermore, the images show that the phone has two hinges that are presumably spaced less than an inch apart. This would give the phone greater flexibility and allow it to fold at two points. So, in addition to folding the phone completely, users would also be able to bend it partially, leaving the lower part of the display visible. This could come in handy for viewing things such as notifications and time quickly without having to unfold the whole phone.
LetGoDigital has also come up with some renders based on the patent images and according to them, it seems like Sharp's phone would fold perfectly, without leaving a gap in between. This would be quite an accomplishment as the foldable devices that have been revealed so far all have a discernible gap in between. Moreover, it also seems that Sharp's foldable device would have a bezel-less design and the images do not show a selfie camera. Since Sharp is a venerated display maker, it could be that the company is developing its own display technology, which would not only allow the screen to bend perfectly, but camera sensors might also go beneath it, rendering a notch cutout or pinhole useless.
On the back, there seems to be a lone camera sensor, which is quite surprising, as some companies have now moved on to a quad camera setup. However, as Google has shown with its Pixel phones, impressive results can be achieved with a single camera unit as well. Alternatively, it could be that the patent depicts an earlier design and the eventual product will look a little different. Other than that, the images also show a charging port on the bottom of the phone and three buttons on the left-hand side, the functions of which have not been detailed.
Sharp's smartphone predominantly sells in Japan, with some like the Sharp Aquos D10 making their way to Europe. The company is presumably trying to increase its market share by keeping up with the latest trend in the industry. However, it's worth mentioning that companies like Sharp files numerous patents each year and not all of those are acted upon. So far, only Samsung, Huawei, and Royole have released their foldable phones and others like Xiaomi and LG are seeing how things play out before jumping in.