Apple could create a revolutionary iPhone with a roll-up screen

Rumors from various sources continue to share details about Apple’s alleged foldable iPhone. That Apple is developing such a device is not at all surprising. Everyone in the industry is developing handsets with foldable screens, Samsung being the best example. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 are also the best possible foldable handsets that money can buy right now. And reports say Apple is testing prototypes featuring both designs. On top of that, Apple may be working on an iPhone with a foldable screen that has a different name: a roll-up screen. Roll-up phones are handsets with foldable OLED screens that roll around one of the corners. We’ve already seen a few concepts, the best of which comes from Chinese smartphone maker Oppo.

A foldable handset could feature a tablet-like design, like the Fold 3, with the screen inside. Huawei has made similar foldable phones with a foldable display on the outside. The Flip 3 is a clamshell device that is the same size when opened as a traditional handset. The main screen is also inside. These foldable handsets have hinges that allow both sides to open and close. The flexible screen folds and unfolds using this hinge.

Roll-up display (14) folding around a roller (80) inside a telephone composed of two structures 12-1 and 12-2 which can slide towards each other. Image source: Apple via USPTO

Roll-up phones don’t have a hinge, but they still feature a flexible OLED panel that folds around an axis. It is also a type of foldable screen, because the screen folds. LG wanted to launch a Rollable phone this year, but then shut down its mobile business. Oppo’s roll-up handset remains the closest thing to a commercial device.

Roll-up iPhone

Apple filed a new patent application in June Apple Insider discovered. The application is the continuation of a patent granted to Apple entitled Electronic devices having sliding extendable screens.

Sliding extendable screens are another way of describing a roll-up phone. The screen would roll to the left or right, in which case. So you could say that the screen slides out as it gets bigger.

The fact that Apple has filed a continuation document seems to suggest that Apple is really interested in this particular type of design for future devices. The general language used in the patent could apply to foldable phone designs similar to those available from Android vendors.

But Apple’s designs focus on a design that involves a roll-up screen. When “folded”, part of the roll-up screen would be inside the phone. When “unfolded,” the screen would slide, rolling around an axis, along part of the phone’s frame.

As seen in these images, the technology Apple is envisioning here would be more suitable for a rollable phone than a foldable phone.

roll-up iPhone
A 3D view of the phone structure shows one side (12-2) moving away from the other (12-1). The roll-up screen would sit on top of the structure, after exiting opening 86. Image source: Apple via USPTO

Rollable or foldable designs

One advantage that a roll-up iPhone would have over a foldable model is that it doesn’t crease in the middle where the hinge is present. But Apple should still make sure that the sliding metal structure that supports the screen is durable enough to prevent damage.

But foldable screens already have access to more durable foldable glass. It is not known if we will ever have rolling glass to protect rollable screens. Then again, Apple may already have access to the kind of glass replacement it could use in foldable and rollable iPhone designs.

That said, there’s no guarantee that Apple will make a rollable iPhone anytime soon. But the patent further proves that Apple is looking for phone-sized devices that can offer larger screens.

The iPad mini 6 is practically a large iPhone 13 Pro that does not support cellular calls. I said a few days ago that the iPad mini 6 is begging to be folded. But what if Apple made a rollable iPhone that you could turn into an iPad mini-like device?

roll-up iPhone
Figure 14 shows a cross-sectional view of a roll-up telephone. Figure 15 shows the compact version of the phone, with the screen rolled up inside. The display takes place in Figure 16 to increase the screen area available to the user. Image source: Apple via USPTO
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