Apple announced today that its Apple Developer Academy has expanded to Bali
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Apple won a Flexible Display patent for future Foldable Devices that includes a new Spring Layer concept to alleviate stresses in the fold


Yesterday Patently Apple posted a report that revealed that Apple's iPhone shipments fell by close to 10% in calendar 2024. It's unknown at this time if the decline was restricted to China where Xiaomi rose 33% in a in Q1-24. In Q1, according to a report by DSCC in March, Huawei’s foldable phone shipments have exploded this quarter and are expected to double compared with the same period last year and capture 40% of the market share. With most major Chinese OEMs now offering premium foldables, the pressure is on Apple to enter this segment of the market. Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to foldable devices that includes a new Spring Layer designed to

Devices with Foldable Displays

Apple's granted patent, which bypassed the patent application phase publicly by filing the patent under their engineers names to avoid detection, reveals a new invention relating to foldable electronic device may have a foldable housing.

The foldable housing may be configured to bend about a bend axis. First and second portions of the housing that rotate relative to each other may be coupled by a hinge that is aligned with the bend axis. A foldable display may be coupled to the foldable housing and may be configured to bend along the bend axis as the foldable housing is folded. The device may be placed in a closed configuration in which the display is folded for storage and an open configuration in which the display is unfolded and available for displaying images for a user.

The foldable display may have an array of pixels supported by a metal layer. The pixels may be interposed between a display cover layer and the metal layer. The foldable housing may have a rear housing wall or other support layer. To help support the display for bending about the bend axis while preventing damage to the display when the display is contacted by an external object, a spring layer may be interposed between the metal layer and the support layer.

The spring layer may be formed from an array of springs. The springs may be formed from metal. Different springs may be formed in different areas. For example, a strip-shaped area aligned with the bend axis may have softer springs than other areas.

Sensors may be included in the spring layer. The sensors may be formed from force sensing structures such as strain gauges and may be supported on portions the springs or may be located adjacent to the springs. If desired, foam posts and other compressible structures may be interspersed with the springs to help adjust the performance of the spring layer.

Apple's patent FIG. 2 represents an iPhone and/or iPad supporting a new form factor with a flexible,  foldable display; FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional side view of a foldable device with a Spring Layer;  FIG. 4 is a side view of device 10 showing how display panel 14P may include a stack of layers #37 that may include polarizer layers, thin-film encapsulation layers, thin-film circuitry including pixel circuits for the pixels of panel #14P, light-emitting diodes for the pixels of the panel and/or other display circuitry, flexible substrate layer(s), etc. Spring layer #34 may be interposed between the display panel and support layer #40 which may be formed from a housing structure such as a mid-plate (#12). report

Apple's patent FIGS. 18-22 illustrate spring Shapes; FIG. 24 illustrates various spring shapes. More specifically, each spring #36 of FIG. 24 has three radially extending arms. Laser cutting, drilling, water jet cutting, stamping, and/or other fabrication techniques may be used to form sheets of the springs.

Apple notes that to relieve stresses that might otherwise tend to build up as the layers of the display are bent about the axis and/or as the display  is subjected to a localized force from an external object during an impact event, the device may include a spring layer which may have spring structures that tend to dissipate applied force over a relatively large fraction of the area of front face and thereby help display panel to deflect smoothly over a relatively large area when subjected to stress from bending about the axis or impact stress that arises when an external object bears against a particular location on the surface of the display.

The ability of the spring layer to deflect smoothly in this way helps prevent excessive localized deformation that could lead to concentrated stress and damage to the thin-film circuitry and/or other components of the display panel. The spring structures may, as an example, include springs that are formed from flexible metal (e.g., spring metal such as spring steel, nickel-chromium aluminum alloys, beryllium copper alloys, stainless steel, cobalt-nickel alloys, etc.).

Two of the team Members on this Invention

  • Paul Drzaic: Director, Display Investigations
  • Yasmin Afsar: Hardware Engineer, Emerging Display Technology


10.52FX - Granted Patent Bar


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