Social Navigation

Apple’s foldable iPhone and iPad could protect its screen from drops, new patents suggest


Apple could join the battle of Samsung, Oppo, and Motorola by launching a foldable smartphone around 2025. And before that, the Cupertino giant filed a patent for a new technology that would protect iPhone and iPad models with flexible screens from damage even when dropped from to rise. With this state-of-the-art technology, devices will be able to detect as they fall and instantly fold on their way to the ground to minimize damage. According to the patent, folding the screen at an angle of less than 180 degrees can provide some protection to the devices.

As first spotted by Patently Apple, Apple has filed for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that references new security features for iPhone and iPad modular screens. The patent, titled “Self-retracting projector and technologies for screen protection using fall detection,” refers to a motorized folding device mechanism that can partially or fully close a folding device, prior to impact with the ground in a drop event to protect the screen.

Foldable displays and rollable displays made of ultra-thin glass can be vulnerable to falls and the proposed technology would be useful for controlling damage by closing the device to protect its screen.

“Mobile devices with foldable and rollable screens can use a sensor to detect vertical acceleration (for example, acceleration with respect to the ground) to determine if the mobile device has been dropped,” the patent application said. She added, “If the sensor detects that the mobile device has fallen… the foldable device can retract at least partially to provide protection from the fragile screen from hitting the ground.”

According to the patent application, folding the screen at an angle of less than 180 degrees can also provide some protection. “The electronic device could incorporate a release mechanism that works with the cylinder to automatically retract the folding width onto the cylinder when the detected vertical acceleration exceeds a preset acceleration threshold,” she added.

In addition to a detailed description of the new technology, the listing on the USPTO website includes some diagrams to suggest how the modifications might work.

Apple has not disclosed any details about the new patent or new version of the iPhone or iPad with a foldable screen. Only patented technologies can be used for prototyping. So, all these details should be considered with a pinch of salt.

Apple launched the iPad Pro (2022) and iPad (2022) along with the new Apple TV this week. We discuss the company’s latest product, along with our review of the iPhone 14 Pro on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and wherever you get your podcast.

Affiliate links may be generated automatically – see our Ethics Statement for details.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.