Apple has been granted a patent for a flexible phone that can be deformed, twisted, and even bent in half, Cult of Mac reports.
Don’t hold your breath for a bendy iPhone, however: Apple files thousands of patents, most of which never turn into actual products. Patent filings are often used to bar rivals from producing products or to entangle them in distracting litigation.
That said, US Patent No. 8,929,085 relates to “flexible electronic devices,” and covers both the internal components of the device as well as the outer casing. As Apple Insider notes, while the Cupertino-based technology giant already holds patents for individual bendable components, it has “until today failed to fully integrate the pieces into a comprehensive model.”
The patent discusses the possibility of flexible batteries and circuit boards, and suggests that a bendable iPhone would be manufactured out of “plastic, thin glass, fiber composites,thin metal, fabric, [or] silicone.
PCR is even reporting that the theoretical device could incorporate “force-based gesture input, meaning users may be able to squeeze the device to perform a command.”
One of the few flexible phones currently on the market is manufactured by LG — the G Flex — but it doesn’t come close to the level of bendiness shown in the illustrations accompanying the Apple’s patent. While the G Flex can gently bend under pressure, the diagrams show handsets severely deforming and even being bent in half without damage.
The release of the iPhone 6 in September 2014 was tarred by “Bendgate,”the realization that many iPhone users’ handsets were being accidentally deformed under pressure in their pockets. But the patent suggests that the benefits of a flexible iPhone may go beyond avoiding such accidents and improve the handset’s overall durability.
“Flexible electronic devices may be more resistant to damage during impact events such as drops because the flexible device may bend or deform while absorbing the impact,” the patent reads. “Deformation of this type may increase the duration of the impact thereby reducing the impulse received by other components of the flexible device.”
A durable, bendable iPhone is at best years from coming to the market. But bendable handsets aren’t as far off as you might think. Samsung is expected to release a a smartphone with displays that can be bent in half before the end of 2015.