Apple Revisits their Flip-Style Foldable iPhone Patent to Clarify its Multi-layered design and Touch Screen Inputs
Apple's usual level of new and original patent applications has been slowing down in recent weeks with most patent applications published being continuation patents. Whether the effects of COVID-19 and working from home has finally caught up with Apple's engineering team's ability to file original patent filings is unknown at this time but it's evident that the pace of original patents has been at a crawl recently with today being no exception.
In one of today's more interesting continuation patents, Apple updates their flip phone granted patent, one of Apple's possible folding iPhone creations.
While the granted patent's patent figures do in fact support physical buttons etc., the patent equally verbally describes a design that uses "touch sensors" and "touch-and/or force sensitive displays."
Apple Later adds: "These components, along with the display that is positioned below the transparent cover, produce an input surface that may accept various types of physical inputs, such as swipes, gestures, touch inputs, presses, and the like."
Apple's patent FIG. 19A below illustrates a composite structure integrated into a display portion to facilitate cooling of a display or other components of the electronic device.
Apple's patent FIG. 19B above illustrates a side view of the device #1900 of FIG. 19A, air may enter one end of the air-permeable structure #1910 and pass through the air-permeable structure exiting at location #1918.
Always keep in mind that unless it's a design patent, Apple's patent figures are only presented to provide a generalized visual in order to convey a particular concept and not necessarily what the end product will actually look like. So yes, Apple is conveying that a flip-style phone is being considered as one of their possible future folding iPhone styles. And although the concept at Apple began as far back as 2017, the rumor mill finally caught up with Apple's patented concept earlier this year. Below is an example with leaker Jon Prosser believing that this patented foldable iPhone is working its way to market.
Considering that today's patent is in fact a continuation patent, the focus is entirely on their 20 new patent claims, period. In fact, Apple cancelled their original 20 patent claims and reinvented the legal core of their granted patent.
Apple's new patent claims focuses on "the plurality of layers that define an interior volume" of the folding iPhone.
In another patent claim they state that "a display positioned below the first layer and configured to produce graphical outputs visible through a transparent region of the first layer," clarifying that the buttons will be virtual not physical.
Apple goes on to claim that the folding iPhone will "further comprise of a touch-sensing system configured to detect touch inputs applied to the user input surface of the enclosure."
To review the entire 20 new patent claims for this foldable iPhone, review Apple's patent application number 20210149458 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.