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Foldable iPhone? Apple patent adds to speculation of coming devices

Apple CEO Tim Cook on August 25, 2017 at the Capital Factory in downtown Austin, Texas. (Austin Community College/Released)
February 16, 2023

Apple’s most recent patent is adding to rumors of the iPhone maker’s future devices that include a foldable phone and other next-generation devices.

The patent, awarded on Tuesday, focused on technology that would permit users to touch multiple parts of a device instead of only the screen, setting off new rumors among Apple users.

UBS said in a note published Tuesday that the patent “could indicate a foldable device is a possibility but not this year.”

“We believe that a foldable iPhone model could lead to an uptick in consumer purchasing and upgrade rate within the smartphone segment,” UBS added, according to CNBC.

The potential foldable iPhone would compete against competitors such as Samsung which has been the first to release a folding smartphone that provides a larger screen for users.

In addition to a potential unfolding iPhone, Apple could include an iPad with a folding screen, possibly as early as next year, according to research from CCS Insight.

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“Right now it doesn’t make sense for Apple to make a foldable iPhone. We think they will shun that trend and probably dip a toe in the water with a foldable iPad,” Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, said last year.

The new technology also may feature new ways to use touch on devices.

As for why anyone would want touch sensors on the backplate, Apple said it could be used in “gaming applications” among others to display the action while not having to cover up any part of the screen, according to Gizmodo.

“This does make a good amount of sense, but again it becomes a question of how strong you can make a device for all those people with incredibly clumsy hands,” the outlet noted.

Some believe the patents will add to future features on Apple watch devices that could allow new technologies to be integrated.

Apple’s filing also included two patents. Another new aspect could include the way voice technology is used on devices.

“A new Apple patent application describes a way to transform an iMessage to a voice note. In this way, the recipient can choose to have your message read to them not in Siri’s voice, but in yours,” 9to5 Mac reported.

“To do this, you would each need to share a voice file containing the data the iPhone would need to mimic your voice when reading the message aloud,” it added.