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Is Apple working on a foldable iPhone?

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We've heard a lot about the iPhone 8 already, despite the fact it's almost a year away, but what could Apple have in store for future iPhones?

A newly published patent (via Patently Apple) gives us an idea, showing a smartphone made of nanotubes with a flexible seam that would allow it to be folded down the middle.

Apple has previously filed similar designs, so this isn't the first we're hearing about a flexible device, but this is the first patent to specifically mention the iPhone.

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The report notes that the patent itself was filed under an engineer's name and not under Apple, to ensure it stayed under the radar until it was granted.

Apple states in the patent that the design features a 'flexible portion', suggesting this isn't the kind of bendy smartphone design we've been hearing about in relation to Samsung, and that one of the materials that could be used in the device is ceramic.

iphone folding patent

The patent also details how "Electronic devices may be provided with carbon nanotube structures or other structures based on carbon (e.g., graphene structures, carbon-fiber structures having carbon fibers other than carbon nanotubes, etc.).

"...Conductive carbon nanotube paths can form signal paths that are flexible and resistant to cracking. The carbon nanotube structures may be incorporated into signal cables such as flexible printed circuit cables, rigid printed circuit boards, printed circuits that include rigid portions with flexible tails (sometimes referred to as "rigid flex"), portions of display structures, portions of touch sensors such as capacitive touch sensor arrays for displays or track pads, camera structures, antenna structures, housing structures, internal device structures, electrical components, substrates, brackets, housing walls, other structures, or combinations of these structures."

Of course, a patent filing is far from a guarantee of a future product, and in this case a foldable iPhone is probably some way off.

But it does show that not only is Apple working on the technology, it's considering it specifically for the iPhone, so expect more in the way of flexible smartphones in the future.

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Let us know what you think of the patent in the comments.

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