Motorola patents a foldable smartphone / tablet concept with clever integrated cover

Motorola patent concept for a foldable smartphone. (Source: LetsGoDigital)
Motorola patent concept for a foldable smartphone. (Source: LetsGoDigital)
Motorola has been granted a patent for a foldable smartphone that unfolds into a tablet. While it is not the first patent for a foldable smartphone that has surfaced in recent times, it is the first to show how a foldable smartphone could work with a smart case design to give it even more potential usage scenarios.
Sanjiv Sathiah,

Motorola has joined the throng of smartphone makers investigating foldable smartphone designs. The interesting aspect about the Lenovo-owned company's approach is the way it integrates a case into its overall functionality. While it looks like the design could function without a case, the way the case is integrated into the design could help solve some problems, while making the device more more functional.

One of the problems with that smartphone makers are trying to overcome with foldable smartphone designs is that the screens can't be completely folded flat -- they can, however, be folded in a way that a traditional screen can't as they use a plastic substrate instead of glass. As with plastic, however, if you folded it completely flat, it would permanently have a crease. The Motorola design depicted here overcomes this by folding outwards, rather than inwards.

This is where the accompanying case design comes in. Based on the images, when the device is in the closed "smartphone mode," the case protects the screen on the rear of the device, while featuring cutouts on the front that would still offer functionality that we see today with some smart covers currently on the market. The cover would also flip open allowing the device would work and function like a regular smartphone. In "tablet mode," the cover would retreat to the rear of the device, but it could also then be used to help set the device up in a "tent mode," as well.

Lenovo Chairman and CEO Yang Yuanging has spoken about its plans to bring a foldable device to market as soon as it can, and under the Motorola brand. Based on Samsung's current timing for the launch of its Galaxy X foldable smartphone, 2019 could be when the foldable Motorola device debuts. If 2018 is "The Year of the Notched Smartphone," 2019 could be "The Year of the Foldable Smartphone."


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Sanjiv Sathiah, 2018-05-10 (Update: 2018-05-10)
Sanjiv Sathiah
I have been tech-obsessed from the time my father introduced me to my first computer, an Apple ][. Since then, I have grown to enjoy exploring and experimenting with any computing platform that I can get my hands on – I am the definitive early adopter! I have always been interested in how we can use technology to shape and improve our lives, most recently using it to record, mix and master my debut record, Acuity – Nature | Nurture out now on Spotify.