Time to Upgrade: Potential Innovations in Next-Gen Smartphones
By Norman K. Freda
There is something inherently exciting about getting a new smartphone. For some, it’s finally being rid of that old phone with the cracked screen. Others appreciate the expanded memory or enhanced battery life. But for many, it’s all about having the latest and greatest features and technology. Now that the thrill of a new phone has worn off for those who acquired the recently released iPhone 12, let’s explore some innovations that could potentially find their way into the next generation of smartphones based on some recent patent activity.
A recently granted Apple application
titled “Hybrid coverlay/window structure for flexible display applications” describes a display panel that is flexible and foldable. The display panel includes a protective hardcoat layer that may fill previous microcracks and prevent formation of new microcracks, which have been problematic in previous foldable display designs. This display upgrade for the iPhone could potentially be accompanied by an update to the Apple Watch, which is the subject of its another Apple patent application, US16/869,877
. In this application, an Apple Watch is able to detect the movement of the tendons in a user’s arm and/or the electrical impulses in a user’s arm muscles, interpret the motions and/or impulses, and instruct a host device (e.g., an iPhone) to perform a corresponding command. Or perhaps the Apple Watch will eventually be replaced with a ring computing device to be worn on a user’s finger, which is the subject of yet another Apple patent application, US16/846,164
Samsung has already ventured into the world of foldable touchscreen displays with the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and other devices, but it could be looking to further that vision. In one of its patent applications, KR30-0965306
, Samsung depicts a phone that folds twice in a Z-shape and includes a slide-out keypad. Samsung could potentially focus on its scroll-like display concept shown in another of its applications, US16/870,470
. This application describes a phone having two roller units disposed on opposite sides which a user can pull apart from one another, like they would a rolled-up scroll, to extend the phone display, for example, to the size of a tablet.
Who knows which features and technology will end up being implemented in the next generation of smartphones. Regardless, phone manufacturers are tinkering with some truly creative concepts.