Apple Invents an iPhone that users will be able to Expand when needed to watch Apple TV+ Content and more
Apple has filed for a few patents for scrollable devices (01& 02) over the years and today Apple is filing for a patent for a different kind of expandable iPhone. This time the iPhone body will allow a flexible display to scroll outwards to accommodate the expanded iPhone frame that will allow for larger viewing of content like live 5G TV for sports, games and Apple TV+ like content when appropriate. This is a more familiar form factor than the tube-like scrollable display device patents of the past that we've linked to above.
Our other blog Patently Mobile covered a 2018 Samsung patent filing on a similar idea that provided a superior patent figure visual as presented below. Here you could see how a smartphone could be expanded to a mini tablet-like device with far more display to allow users to enjoy certain types of content. On paper at least, it seems a more practical way to get a larger display when needed as opposed to a folding smartphone like the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Electronic Devices Having Sliding Expandable Displays." Apple notes right out of the gate that "If care is not taken, a display may not offer sufficient screen real estate to display information of interest to a user. At the same time, it can be difficult to enlarge the size of electronic devices too much to accommodate larger displays, because this can make devices too bulky."
Apple's invention covers An electronic device that may have a display mounted in a housing. The housing may have portions that slide relative to each other. When it is desired to place the device in a compact unexpanded state, the housing portions may be slid towards each other. When it is desired to expand the viewable size of the display, the housing portions may be slid away from each other.
The display in the device may be a flexible display such as an organic light-emitting diode display. The display may be doubled back on itself once or twice when it is desired to store a portion of the display. A tensioner may be used to provide the display with tension and thereby maintain the display in a desired shape such as a desired planar shape.
The housing portions that slide relative to each other may have interdigitated fingers or other slidably engaged housing structures. The display may be supported on a surface of the housing such as on a front face of the housing. The housing and display may be adjusted by a user.
For example, the housing portions may slide between an unexpanded state in which the display has an unexpanded viewable area on the front face and an expanded state in which the display has an expanded viewable area on the front face that is greater than the unexpanded viewable area.
The electronic device housing may have an interior that contains electrical components. A doubled-back portion of a flexible display may be stored in an interior of the housing when the housing is in the unexpanded state.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 is perspective view of an iPhone that is capable of expanding its display; IGS. 15 and 16 are perspective views of the illustrative electronic device in unexpanded and expanded configurations; and FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative electronic device with a sliding display.
Although it seems impractical, Apple hates to limit an invention to a single device and so they state that this expandable display idea could apply to future devices like a MacBook, an iMac, a standalone display, Apple Watch and more.
The display type is noted as either an OLED or micro-OLED display.
Apple's patent application number 20200329572 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q1 2020. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.