- OPPO has patented a folding smartphone design for a device that would open up like a tablet.
- The device would have a rear hinge but the front would house a single, flexible display.
- OPPO is one of several smartphone manufacturers said to be working on a foldable smartphone.
OPPO has patented a design for a folding smartphone that could also be used like a tablet. The patent was picked up by China Mobile (via GSMArena) and it presents an exciting prospect for those awaiting the first truly foldable handsets.
The patent indicates that the device would look something like a regular smartphone device—albeit without a bezel on one side—when in one configuration, but that it could also open up to resemble a compact tablet.
This would be thanks to a hinge at the center of the device rear, and it suggests that the device could be used with front and rear displays—similar to the YotaPhone—as well as offering a pseudo-tablet experience. In addition, this design could allow OPPO to focus on making one excellent camera that could act as both front or back depending on how the device is held.
Though such patents aren’t necessarily an indication of what a company is working on, OPPO is said to be one of the manufacturers currently eyeing a foldable product, along with Samsung, LG, and Apple. Samsung’s mobile chief DJ Koh has recently said that a folding phone is in development, but that there are technological hurdles to be cleared before its release in 2019. These are believed to relate to the bending point of the device and its long-term durability—something that OPPO would also have to address if it pursued this type of phone.
We’ve encountered a similar OPPO patent before, only that was for a phone that would bend backwards. We’re at a bit of a loss as to the benefits of that setup, though, so the design above looks like the more viable product.
This could open up lots of opportunities for new and unique apps/content that just wouldn’t be capable on today’s smartphones.
We don’t know when the patent filing was submitted, or if OPPO is pursuing this design, but given its history, it’s pretty likely. What are your thoughts on the prospects of this folding device? Let us know in the comments.