It seems 2019 will be the year of foldable phones. We have already seen several handset makers reveal their first foldable phones, while many others are working on them. Moreover, several foldable designs have surfaced with some unique features. However, LG’s new patent suggests a completely unique design that hasn’t been heard or seen so far.
LG’s transparent foldable phone – what patent tells?
LG’s latest patent suggests transparent displays for a foldable phone. The company has long been working with transparent displays. For instance, LG showcased a transparent OLED TV at the CES 2019. Now, it seems, the company aims to apply the same technology to the smartphone with a foldable form factor.
LG’s patent – titled “Mobile Terminal” – was published with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on April 9, 2019. The Korean firm filed the patent more than three years ago, but it has only just been approved. LG’s patent was first spotted by LetsGoDigital, which has come up with their renders based on the patent.
LG’s patent for a transparent foldable phone details the operation and user interface as well. Moreover, the patent describes the material used for such a foldable phone.
LG’s patent reveals a foldable phone with a full screen that features a big flexible screen on both front and back and the inside. The phone unfolds into a tablet format and appears to have narrow screen edges that are transparent as well.
When folded, the screen has two parts, and both can independently display transparent or opaque content. Transparency of the folded parts depends on the angle at which the device is held. For instance, the transparency is minimal when the phone is flat, but when folded or held up higher, the transparency increases.
Further, the phone automatically activates the rear touch sensor if the transparency of the screen is more than 20%. This not only allows the user to see their hand through the screen, but also operate the phone from the rear.
LG’s patent also notes that users have the option to decide the screen they want to see when the phone is folded. For instance, if a user folds the phone while holding the front and back, the left side of the screen is visible.
Talking of the camera system, the patent says that LG’s transparent foldable phone would feature a camera setup with multiple lenses. Further, the camera would also include a laser sensor, which helps in the detection of 3D stereoscopic images.
As of now, there is no information if LG is actually developing a transparent phone. However, considering that LG has long been known to be working on a foldable phone and that it also develops transparent displays, there are good chances that we will see a combination of both going forward.
Another new form factor from LG
A report from Android Headlines last month claimed that LG is developing a phone with a stretchable display. The report noted that the company filed a patent with the USPTO.
LG’s patent details a “mobile terminal having a display unit configured to be expanded or contracted in at least one direction, a housing disposed at a lower part of the display unit and formed to enclose electric components and a case covering a rear surface of the housing is provided.”
It seems the company might be experimenting with some new form factor. The patent, however, does not mention what kind of device will feature such a screen. But, many presume the technology is for the smartphone.
No plans for a foldable phone
With so many LG patents appearing, a big question now is when the company would launch a foldable phone – the answer to this, not now.
A couple of months back, LG’s head of mobile Brian Kwon told the Korean Times that the company does not intend to launch a foldable phone now. “We have reviewed releasing the foldable smartphone when launching 5G smartphone but decided not to produce it,” Kwon was quoted by the Korean Times.
LG, it seems, is more concerned about the future of the mobile division, and thus, wants to enter the foldable phone market when it is ready.
Kwon said that LG’s primary objective is to regain its market position, and considering this, “it is too early for LG to launch a foldable smartphone.” Kwon, however, noted that it has the technology ready and would launch such a phone if consumers wanted it.