LetsGoDigital has uncovered a Samsung patent filed with the World Intellectual Property Organisation on September 21, and published on January 24. In it, a phone with a folding screen is shown with a clamshell design where a tablet-like device folds shut into a phone shape with a screen on both sides.
That’s quite a change from the Galaxy Fold, where the larger tablet screen is in the middle, augmented by a smaller 4.6-inch display on the outside.
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What’s particularly interesting about this is that Samsung has been pretty critical of this design in the past for practical reasons. Just last week, Samsung’s vice president of R&D, Eui-suk Chung told the Australian Financial Review that the company had tried and rejected the design seen in the patents. “We tried the outfold, too, but users didn’t like it,” he said.
“If you go with an outfold, you can close the device fully, but then the display is on the outside, which means it’s susceptible to all kinds of user errors,” Chung continued. “You might touch it by mistake or call someone by mistake, and if you drop it, the display is more susceptible to damage.”
So what does this patent mean? Well, possibly nothing. Companies patent things all the time with no plans on using them – just last year, Samsung patented over 8000 things. Another possibility is that it was patented during the testing phase, then rejected after focus tests.
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There’s also the very real possibility that people find the Mate X a better purchase than the Galaxy Fold when both are available to buy. If that happens, then you can bet that Samsung will be revisiting this patent, no matter what it has previously said about the design.
Do you prefer the clamshell design of the Mate X to the booklike Galaxy Fold? Let us know on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.