Patent Bolt: Samsung IP reveals smartphone with Tri-Fold flexible display

When it comes to delivering the next generation of smartphones with dual displays and beyond, Samsung has been putting the pedal to the metal. This has been a mammoth year for Samsung in terms of advancing the flexible display. In September their display division had successfully mass-produced the world’s first flexible display and although it wasn’t a pure flexible display at this point in time, the fact is that Samsung is leading the way towards producing the world’s first flexible display products. Today’s report provides you with a brief overview of their recent series of patent applications regarding multi-display smartphones, but more importantly, a peek at their most recent patent application that details an intriguing tri-fold flexible display smartphone design.

Will Samsung be the first to launch a Smartphone with a Flexible Display?

In 2011 we reported on one of Samsung’s patents covering a multi-featured dual display smartphone that would be able to offer consumers a very cool two-page styled eBook and/or provide users with a larger display area for watching mobile TV programming or playing video games. And this wasn’t just theory – as Samsung had presented a prototype of this unit back at CES 2009. Then in June of this year Samsung expanded on that idea with another great idea which included a removable live spine remote control. Later that same month, Samsung delivered a third surprising patent application supporting a future dual display smartphone that could fold in very specific configurations depending on the user’s choice of application. And if that wasn’t enough, in between the dual display patents, the USPTO published a detailed flexible display patent from Samsung.

In September, Samsung announced that their display division had mass-produced the world’s first flexible display and that real world production could start as early as 2H 2013. Samsung believes that flexible displays should replace traditional LCD displays in the 2015-2016 timeline.

Samsung Introduces a Tri-Fold Flexible Display Invention

To round off this year’s impressive developments in respect to multi-display and flexible display smartphones, a new Samsung patent application has recently surfaced that reveals their all-new tri-fold flex display invention.

Samsung’s patent FIG. 7 noted below illustrates a perspective view showing a state where a flexible display unit is coupled in a smartphone having the flexible display unit; patent FIG. 11 illustrates a perspective view showing a state where second and third housings are rotating in a smartphone having a flexible display.

Samsung’s patent FIG. 12 illustrates a side cross-sectional view showing a state where second and third housings are rotating in a smartphone having a flexible display unit; patent FIG. 13 illustrates an enlarged exploded perspective view of a portion F shown in FIG. 12 that illustrates a variable elastic movement component.

Such a unit could be revolutionary if delivered successfully. It would in many ways be the first smartphone that could expand into a full mini tablet for enjoyably surfing the web, watching movies or playing a game.

At the end of the day, Samsung needs their own magic first-to-market feature to unseat Apple as the king of cool internet devices. If they could pull off a cool and highly functional flexible display solution as they’ve presented this year in a timely manner, then they’ll have a fighting chance of shaking off their copycat designer image and be seen as a true innovator in the mobile device space.

Earlier this week, ABI Research published a report on Handset and Smartphone Shipments that show that Samsung had doubled Apple’s iPhone shipments last quarter.

While it’s true that the new iPhone 5 may help Apple play catch-up, one has to equally remember that Samsung will be entering the Windows 8 smartphone arena this holiday season which is likely to either assist them maintain or expand their 2-to-1 ratio over Apple’s iPhone shipments in Q4.

With the shipment stats beginning to turn in Samsung’s favor, releasing a highly innovative flexible display smartphone in the 2013-2014 timeline could be what’s needed to overtake the iPhone in mindshare. Yet for now, Samsung isn’t there yet and it’s way too early to predict Samsung as being the victor of anything. But at least on paper, it’s enough to keep their loyal fan-base happy – and in the end, we all know that the public loves a market underdog. The mobile device war between Apple and Samsung is only going to accelerate over the coming years and that’s bound to be good for all consumers.

Samsung’s patent application was originally filed under serial number 447739 in the US in Q2 2012 and in Korea under serial number 10-2011-0034712 in Q2 2011. The US Patent Office published the patent application in Q3 2012.


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