Samsung was granted a design patent for a multi-fold tablet back in September 2016 and last Tuesday they were granted at least their second utility patent for a multi-fold tablet. Samsung will probably have to deliver a next-gen foldable tablet to market if they're ever expected to have a chance of leap frogging Apple's iPad. Samsung's 2016 design patent illustrated a physical keyboard on the backside of one of the folding panels. In Samsung's latest granted patent they've continued that theme into their utility patent.
Samsung once got the leap on Apple with the phablet and they'd need something original for their tablets to score a meaningful market win. The tablet sector continues to struggle to find the next-great thing to put this category back on a trajectory for growth.
To date Samsung has been reluctant to deliver on their creative foldable smartphones and tablet inventions. Perhaps one of these days Samsung will provide a few prototypes of their next-gen foldable devices for trade shows like CES so that consumers could kick the tires to see if such designs are practical and bring a new level of value to tablets.
Samsung's patent FIG. 5B below illustrates a front view of the flexible display including a sub display unit and a key input unit. For more on this patent, see our Patently Mobile report here.
Samsung already tries to compete with Apple's iPad Pro with their Galaxy Book and they may join the Windows-Qualcomm platform later this spring which would provide their users with next-gen 2-in-1 devices with a Snapdragon processor so that it becomes an "always on" device like their Galaxy smartphones.
In Q4 2017, IDC listed Apple at number one in the 2-in-one category with Samsung in third.
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