Apple patent rekindles folding iPhone rumor

Is Apple still working on a foldable device? The rumor has been around for several years, but has never materialized. This week a company patentspotted by CNBCrevives speculation with more credibility.

A buttonless device?

Filing a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the US office in charge of trademarks and patents, is a prerequisite for the possible commercial release of a product. This document certifies a technical innovation in order to protect it from plagiarism. The file filed by Apple on February 14 thus seems to present a foldable electronic device, resembling an iPhone. The sketches reveal a phone seemingly without a physical button, with the camera controlled virtually from the edge of the device. For the volume, the user would only have to slide his finger up and down on the side.

Until now, Apple had never introduced a folding iPhone or iPad. The Cupertino company usually prefers to fully master the technology and bring real innovations before releasing a product. An iPhone or tablet without a physical button could thus constitute a small revolution for the sector.

Even if the rumor of a foldable device seems credible, the fine observers of the brand at the apple think that it will not market it soon. The project, currently under development, would be part of a longer-term vision. “A foldable device is a possibility, but not this year”say UBS analysts in a recent note seen by CNBC. “We believe a foldable iPhone model could lead to increased consumer purchases”they add.

iPad or iPhone?

There remains an unanswered question, is the company developing this folding model for the iPhone or for the iPad? The signals of recent months plead for a tablet. Easier to master on a large screen, foldable technology would be more comfortable there. The Californian firm is also working on a “carbon fiber kickstand”more “lightweight and more durable”according to an analysis by Ming-Chi Kuo.

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