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ZTE reportedly patents a tri-folding tablet

The alleged ZTE tri-fold patent. (Source: PriceBaba)
The alleged ZTE tri-fold patent. (Source: PriceBaba)
The smartphone OEM ZTE has reportedly filed a patent with the Chinese National Intellectual Property Office (CNIPA) for a tablet-like device with a screen that can bend at 2 points to collapse into more of a phone form factor. It is not the only manifestation of this concept out there, but does look a very convincing take on it.

ZTE is a smartphone OEM with recent and upcoming phones that exhibit up-to-date properties such as 5G, the Qualcomm SoCs that faciliate it and SE versions. Now, it seems that it is also keeping pace with the trend toward foldables. PriceBaba has posted images it claims are part of a new patent from this company that back this theory up.

These diagrams show a device that almost definitely could not work without a flexible panel. Like the recent real-life concept tablet from TCL, it has a tri-folding mechanism. However, unlike this prototype, it has something like a non-display grip to one side, around which it wraps twice over. 

Therefore, it is much more reminiscent of a Huawei Mate X-series phablet, except it would be able to bend at 2 points rather than just 1. Furthermore, the reported ZTE IP gives the impression of having active panels on both sides.

Then again, PriceBaba does not mention when the patent may have been submitted; furthermore (presuming these images are indeed genuine) it comes across as a very preliminary filing that has yet to be fleshed out with details such as buttons, cameras and I/O. Nevertheless, this design gives the impression that, with some refinement, it could make a plausible foldable of the future.

The "ZTE tri-folding phone" patent images. (Source: PriceBaba)
The "ZTE tri-folding phone" patent images. (Source: PriceBaba)


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Deirdre O'Donnell, 2020-05-30 (Update: 2020-05-30)