LG is continuing to consider new ways to implement a folding design into a smartphone based on a recently published patent pointing to a spring-based folding mechanism spotted by Android Headlines at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Specifically, the patent indicates that the use of torsion springs within its hinge can alleviate tension and separation problems commonly exposed when a flexible panel is placed on a rigid backing and then folded.
The springs seem to reduce the chances that the display will separate from the backing at the edges and are part of the hinge, giving the display more rigidity. When folded that has the apparent benefit of reducing the gap often seen near the hinged portion of modern iterations of the technology.
In effect, it seems the use of the U-shaped mechanism adds pressure to the folded display where the display's pressure would ordinarily be most prominent at the edges. That keeps the leading edges in place even as the screen is folded in half. When the panel is opened, those slip to the side along a preset route to lay flat within the gadget's housing. Aesthetically, the design is similar in style to Samsung's Galaxy Fold but with a drastically reduced gap and screens could easily be placed either externally or internally.
LG's folding phone plans
LG has mostly managed to keep its official plans for a folding smartphone well under wraps. Rumors have circulated indicating that it may follow in Samsung's footsteps to share its technology with other manufacturers in a bid to drive folding phones into the mainstream more quickly. It's also expected to brandish a brand new market designation but that is effectively the extent of viable leaks and rumors.
Officially, LG has stated that its first folding device would launch under the V-series branding along the lines of its LG V40 ThinQ or 5G enabled LG V50 ThinQ — representing the company's more experimental line-up. That won't necessarily be in the form of an LG V60 ThinQ either, based on recently spotted trademark filings.
The company could choose to designate one of its previous gadgets, either the LG V40 or V50, or a new standard bar-style smartphone with a new moniker meant to indicate a special, foldable edition of a standard handset. Regardless of which direction it goes, the device will undoubtedly bear a "V" designation of some kind and that actually makes a lot of sense, given the shape of the letter in question.
Will the sprung hinge mechanism make an appearance?
LG's latest patent may seem relatively straightforward as an easy-to-build solution to a problem that's holding the technology itself back in its initial steps toward the mainstream but there's no guarantee the company will actually use it.
Over the past several months, patents from LG have repeatedly surfaced pointing to a variety of uses for flexible OLED panels in a smartphone format. Those have ranged in configuration from single and double-folded gadgets to those that are rolled up entirely into either cylindrical or box-shaped tubes when not in use.
While this newer design may seem far more straightforward since it is a more simplified half-fold, the tech giant has also incorporated other hinge designs that are equally feasible over that same period. So LG may ultimately go with any one of those or some combination of those instead.