Royole, Samsung and Huawei had already announced their foldable handsets. Many other companies are working on their very own foldable smartphones, and Sharp is one of them, it seems.
Back in April, the company actually showed off its prototype foldable smartphone in Japan. That phone offered a clamshell design, and we were hoping it will launch this year. That is still a possibility, but Sharp hasn't announced anything just yet.
That being said, Sharp had patented several different designs for foldable smartphones. The company submitted six new patents, and all of these devices include flexible displays.
Foldable smartphone with bezel-less design
The patent that deserves most attention is probably the one with a full screen design. Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha patented this design at the JPO (Japan Patent Office).
This is a clamshell phone with really thin bezels. Unlike the prototype that Sharp showed everyone in April, this phone does not have that large notch. You can see the phone in the provided render. Its hinge is placed right in the middle of the device.
You will notice that cameras are not visible here, so we're wondering what's going on with that. Do note that this is just a sketch of the phone, so… we'll see.
Device with a built-in receiver
The second patent is actually fairly interesting. The device patented here actually sports a similar design to the first one we've talked about. This handset, however, comes with a built-in receiver.
That receiver is shown in the provided image. That receiver will not be visible on the device itself, of course. We're just not sure where it will be located, between the display and the phone body, or on the back.
Foldable smartphone that doubles as a payment terminal
The third patent is probably the weirdest of them all. The device shown here is basically meant to be used as a folding payment terminal. A mobile payment terminal, of course.
You will literally be able to place your card inside of this phone in order to make a payment, if it ever becomes a reality. That means that this device will be a bit thicker than other foldable phones, but it may prove to be useful to some people. Considering this will be a payment terminal, it will for sure have an NFC chip.
A folding bracelet? Why not
The fourth patent actually shows a folding bracelet. That bracelet features a touchscreen, and it does not have a clasp.
The device does have a small opening on the bottom, using which you can unfold it. Based on this image, this device will be quite thick, so we don't really know what it will look like on a wrist.
Two foldable gaming devices have been patented as well
The last two patents actually belong to gaming devices. Those devices have also been patented over at JPO (Japan Patent Office), just like all the others on this list.
The only difference between these two patents is in the shape of the device, it seems. One is square-ish, while the other one features rounded corners.
We don't really know much about these devices, but it seems like digital buttons appear when they're in gaming mode. Both devices do seem to be quite wide, just for that purpose. They will essentially look like huge controllers with a display in-between them when in use, similar too portable consoles.
Will Sharp release any of these foldable smartphones, though?
It remains to be seen how many of these devices will become a reality, though. Do note that these are only patented designs, and it's even possible that not a single one will come to life. Only Sharp knows what will happen.
The first patent has the most chances of succeeding, as Sharp already showed off something similar in April. Sharp will hopefully release more information by the end of the year, when it comes to plans for its foldable smartphones.