The strangeness of Samsung has reached a new peak following its decision to file an ear-bearing protective case patent. The case, filed with The Hague International Design System, is anything but standard. As shown in the recently spotted patent images, the company is has added what appears to be a grip to both the left and right-hand edge.
What makes those odd is that they’re shaped like seemingly anatomically-correct left and right human ears. Those grips and the almost ‘u’-shaped connector between them are the only subjects of the patent too. The rest of the “Case for mobile phone” isn’t part of the protected design.
What is Samsung planning with this ear-y case?
The design goes further to show how a smartphone might be seated in the case. The tops of the ears would presumably provide protection to one edge of the smartphone. That attaches via a backplate and what looks like extendable arms. Those arms protect the smartphone on the other edge while the backplate provides added protection there.
The bulk of the protective mechanism, if that’s Samsung’s intent here, derives from the ears themselves. Those are around half the size of the phone when put together, which would presumably give the phone itself plenty of ground-clearance on all but one edge.
Aside from the protective aspect, Samsung isn’t divulging any details about what the case is meant to do.
There are holes in each respective ‘ear’ where the ear canal would be. On at least one side, that’s placed in such a way as to allow 3.5mm headphone jack access on modern Samsung smartphones.
But that won’t necessarily work the same way if Samsung does ever release this case. By that point, it’s possible almost no Samsung phone will have a headphone jack since that’s been the trend.
The anatomically correct shape isn’t an accident. So, instead of providing access to existing ports, the design may be intended to help direct sound to mics.
That could feasibly enable a more natural-sounding audio input from those, especially where 360-degree spatial audio is concerned or to improve AI-driven machine hearing.
Conversely, it could be that Samsung plans to use the unique shape to amplify and output audio. That seems less likely but there aren’t any buttons or readily-apparent touch zones. So it seems unlikely Samsung has planned its ear-shaped case for anything that isn’t audio-related.
Will Samsung ever release this as a consumer product?
Samsung could go any number of directions with a design like this, despite how unlikely it may seem. The ear shape may serve well as both a grip for users and as storage or charging for its Galaxy Buds for instance. Or that may have been the initial purpose given that the patent and earbuds fall into the same timeframe. Or they may be intended to help drive Bixby forward and it wouldn’t be too crazy to imagine Samsung building out a digital on-screen face to match.
That Samsung pushed this design all the way through to a patent doesn’t necessarily mean it will appear in retailers any time soon. It might not ever be launched at all or at least not under the speculative use cases listed here.