Will the iPhone 8 be a folding phone? Recent patents have led to speculations that the upcoming iPhone 8 could be influenced by the 90s flip phones which were made famous by Motorola, reports the Daily Mail. For the second time in a month, Apple has been awarded a patent for a folding phone. The illustration of the new patent shows a hinge in the middle of the display that would allow the device to bend in half.

Apple iPhone 8
Image Source: USPTO (screenshot)

Apple seriously considering a folding phone?

The patent was filed on August 28, but it was officially granted to the tech giant on November 2. The company was able to keep the patent a mystery by using the name of an engineer during the filing process, according to Patently Apple. However, the patent itself uses the name iPhone and shows many pictures depicting the iconic smartphone design, such as the distinctive Home button.

The patent document suggests a titanium and nickel alloy and a flexible nitinol for the device’s support structure. Like the clamshell phones of the past, one version of the handset leaves the screen hidden when the handset in folded. In another version, the screen is visible but reduced to half its size.

The new patent suggests that an upcoming iPhone could be made of fiber, glass, aluminum, plastic or ceramic materials which are all currently used in devices. However, the patent also introduces a new material called “carbon nanotubes” that would enable the device to be folded down the middle, notes the Daily Mail.

“Conductive carbon nanotube paths can form signal paths that are flexible and resistant to cracking,” the patent says.

The nanotube could be used in different parts of the smartphone, including the camera or touch sensors.

According to Patently Apple, the latest design represents only one of the 39 patents that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the Cupertino-based company recently. Earlier this month, the tech giant was granted another new patent for a foldable iPhone concept. Apparently the iPhone maker started researching this technology in 2013, but the recent patent indicates that the tech giant is still quite serious about making foldable phones.

Samsung has apparently been looking at foldable phone technology as well. The Korean firm has a large number of patents for similar handsets, notes the Daily Mail.

What to expect in the iPhone 8

Apple launched the iPhone 7 only a couple of months ago, but there are already rumors about what the company has in store for future devices. Apple is expected to reveal the most radical redesign ever of its flagship on its tenth anniversary in 2017. Details about the next iPhone are very few, but there are some reports that suggest the iPhone 8 will come with better cameras and a completely different look from the previous handsets.

An anonymous employee at an Apple site in Herzliya, Israel leaked some information about the new device to Business Insider. Herzliya is reportedly the place where hardware for the iPhone 8 is being developed. Apple usually launches a new model and then the S version of the model next year, so many expect the company to release the iPhone 7S in 2017. But the employee used the term “iPhone 8,” suggesting that the iPhone maker may skip the 7S completely this time.

There are also reports that Apple’s upcoming handset will have wireless charging as well. Citing an industry source familiar with the matter, Nikkei said that Foxconn is making wireless charging modules in Taiwan to go with Apple’s next iPhone.

A source familiar with the matter reportedly told Nikkei that whether the feature will ultimately make it into the next iPhone will depend on whether Foxconn can push the yield rate to a satisfactory level. It is not known if the Cupertino-based company will offer a wireless charging plate similar to those made by Samsung for its Galaxy S handsets. Also there are reports that three iPhone 8 models will be launched next year, and one of them is rumored to come with a curved edge-to-edge OLED display, while the two other will reportedly have standard LCD displays.