News of a Microsoft foldable known as ‘Andromeda’ have been floating around the web, but it appears Apple is working on a similar device. A recently published patent decscribes a “folding device with a flexible display,” and was applied for in September 2016.
Of course, this doesnt nessecarily mean that Apple will release such a device, but it’s easily possible. Samsung has also expressed interest in such a device, and Apple has a history of perfecting existiting designs.
Apple’s push for a flexible display rather than a hinge-based one is interesting, as is its vision to achieve it. The patent describes use of nanotubles and optically clear adhesive to protect the screen, as well as a shape memory alloy to allow folding of the frame.
Despite this, it’s unclear if consumers will be interested in such a device. It could be useful for reading and multitasking, but will come at the price of extra thickness.
As noted by Patently Apple, this patent lists micro-LED as one of the main iPhone display types. Like OLED, Micro-LED offers a bettter contrast ratio than traditional LCD screens, but has better brightness to power efficiency, and doesn’t have the same screen burn issues.
That’s something we haven’t heard about Andromeda, but admittedly details are still scarce. So far, rumors suggest it will be closer to a tablet than an phone, able to fold down for easier transportation.
Despite this, Microsoft plans to include call and text functionality, creating a win-win scenario. Like the previously cancelled Courier, it also seems to target note-taking rather than a fully fledged phone.
Other than that, it’s not clear how closely Andromeda will resemble Apple’s patent. We’ve seen similar patents with foldable screens, hinge-based devices, and anywhere in between.
It’s impossible to say, then, what form the devices will take, but it’s an interesting concept all the same. Earlier this year, Korean site The Investor claimed that Apple is planning a foldable release for 2020, so it’s unclear who will win the race.