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Samsung's patented foldable phone, sitting up

This foldable Samsung Galaxy might make consumers forget about those burning batteries

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How is Samsung going to recover from its recent Galaxy explode-gate publicity nightmare? How about by developing gizmos so next-level that the chance they may catch fire in your pocket would be an afterthought.

A new patent filed by the South Korean phone maker shows a full-sized touchscreen smartphone that can bend itself (and its screen) in half like a classic clamshell flip phone, unlocking all kinds of new portability and usability potential.

Samsung's patented foldable phone, open and folded
(GalaxyClub)

Samsung's patented foldable phone. (Image: GalaxyClub)

Samsung's patented foldable phone, open
(GalaxyClub)

Images of the novel design, spotted by Dutch gadget blog GalaxyClub, show an innovative hinge behind the center of the phone's screen that grants the otherwise sturdy handset an ability to billfold itself and become super pocketable.

Samsung's patented foldable phone, sitting up
(GalaxyClub)

One illustration of the concept phone also shows it folded at a 90-degree angle, propped upright on a tabletop. Useful trick!

Philips Fluid smartphone
(Dinard da Mata)

Samsung and other companies have flirted with flexible-screen projects for years. The gaudiest of these concepts has been the reoccurring bendable-screen, wearable slap bracelet phone thingy. It's yet to become a real thing (thankfully).


Finally, a tasteful use for the bendable screen

But this new blueprint by Samsung lays out a way the bendable screen can be applied practically to the type of smartphone we already use today.

Folding a phone's giant screen in on itself can protect it from an otherwise shattering fall to the concrete. And technology for folding down smartphones for portability could enable phablets (phone-tablet) to continue to increase in size, creating a new productivity or entertainment-oriented category of mobile gadgets.

Samsung's flexible display
(MyNextGadget / Samsung)

Shown above is Samsung's flexible display. The company does use curved displays in its Galaxy phones today.

(Image courtesy of MyNextGadget)

Bringing back the Galaxy brand

Samsung is expected to announce the Galaxy S8 next year, its first smartphone release since the now-recalled Galaxy Note 7, which famously suffered from a chronic combustible battery problem. 

Though it would seem unlikely that the bendable phone technology shown in Samsung's new patent will be ready in time for the S8, conventional wisdom dictates that the company will need to use a strategy that combines of safety assurance with exciting innovation to reel customers back in.

Galaxy S9?

Of course, with the loose nature of patent filings being what they are, it's never a lock that the technologies laid out in new filings will ever come to life. (After all, we're still waiting for Amazon's 2010 phone and tablet airbag drop-prevention system to materialize.) 

Will this foldable phone design be Samsung's Next Next Big Thing? Your guess is just about as good as ours.

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