Patents Pondered: Say Hello to... iFlip? - Wait-a-Thon


Dual-sided, transparent, flip-capable iPhone Nano?

El Jobso and Co. might just be exploring the possibility according to a recent patent filing unearthed, as usual, by the folks at Apple Insider.

Some of the juicy details include:

"capacitive array element [that] may be a dual-sided panel that is capable of sensing touch from either side and sending signals indicative of the touches to a host device (e.g., a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a digital music player or a mobile telephone unit)."

Of course, many Apple patent filing simply disappear into the dim, dank vaults of 1 Infinite Loop while others show up in ways or products we never could have guessed -- but that certainly doesn't mean we shouldn't try!

I'll admit, the idea doesn't hold much appeal to me, or to those still waiting for their big-apps iTablet Safari Pad, but I've learned never to underestimate Johnny Ive and Cupertino's finest. If anyone could make this little miracle as functional as it is "lick-able", it's them.

What do you think? Does this give us any hard insight into a next-gen iPhone? How does the idea of a translucent touch screen grab you? Is a flip phone a great idea or just another point of failure in the waiting?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Patents Pondered: Say Hello to... iFlip? - Wait-a-Thon


I am having a tough time visualizing exactly what the translucent thing would look like -- though rene's photoshop definitely helped! I've wanted a decent flip-smartphone ever since using the treo 270. My favorite part about this: it would mean I could just flip open the iPhone instead of using that slide to unlock the screen.
Plus there's nothing better than flipping a phone open to answer and closing it to hang up. :D

I hope the iPhone does not go in this direction... Ever since my first Treo 650 I've wanted to avoid flips at all costs... Please say it's not true...

Old-school *flip* "Dieter to Enterprise!" fondness, eh?
All my old flip phones busted at the joint, and I like the slab personally, but again I'd never bet against Ive.

I just KNEW Dieter was a Trekkie ;) Seriously, I wouldn't mind having the option. iPhone in at least two form-factor flavors? YES!

I really doubt this will occur. The touch screens take a fair amount of internal space as well as the battery. If the iPhone were spit and miniturized in this manner, there would be even less room for the other electronics. I like the idea for adopting flip phone converts, but we'd lose some of the screen real estate, battery life, and all the apps and webapps made for iphones would have to be reformatted for the new design. I don't think that sounds very apple.

Meh. I'll pass on the flip. But I would like to see some new form factors, just not this one!

Since I think my first Cell Phone will be an iPhone, I am intrigued by this rumor, but I am not so sure about this translucent jazz. I would think there would be bleed through from front to back, making things difficult to read. I like the one piece design. Flip phones are a gimmick as far as I am concerned.

As I was pondering over in another thread, multiple hardware designs have a downside if it means the UI can't be fully optimised for any one bit of kit. That seems like a real strength of the iPhone at the moment but I guess two designs might not be too many. A flip though? I'll pass on that unless it's much better than it is in my imagination :)

Since I think my first Cell Phone will be an iPhone
Now there's an opening line to a first post! I hope you enjoy mobile technology, despite the occasionally curmudgeonly tone of some these forums I'm sure we'd all agree that it's really a great deal of fun and actually rather useful too.

Can't say that I would be too interested in this particular form factor, but then again a real product could sway me if it was designed as well as the original.

Doesn't hurt to get a patent, but it wouldn't be for me, the more moving parts, the more that can break. Apple keeps it simple and that's good for me.

I think one of the most appealing features of the iPhone was that it had such a big screen.. I guess just don't like flip phones.

hmm this looks like it would suck not dissing on your photoshop skills or anything just the actual design. I haven't owned a flip phone for about 5 years now and there's no way I'm going back.
So anyword on who won last weeks contest I thought the winner would be posted in the first post the next week isn't this it or am I missing something?

Oops guess I should have kept reading on the main page as the very next post answered my question. :)

Don't see it happening but with Apple you never know. Browsing seems like it would lose its appeal.

I have to agree with some of the other posts. The main thing I like about the iPhone is the big screen. I will stick with the current design, but you never know if you can fight Job's RDF

Giving up the large screen is not something I'm interested in at this point, though Apple has released plenty of products that make sense only after they're released.

ugh, i remember this argument with the first smartphones came out, flip versus candybar style, can't stand the flip personally, but if this happens i'd want a second screen with some sort of feep back maybe not a touch screen, but a keyboard with oled screens like that russian made one

I personally like the flip phones- my old cell phone didn't have a flip and kept turning itself on in my backpack.
Not sure I get the translucent screen though...

That's an interesting idea but not a practical idea, although I support that Apple brings some changes to its iPhone design.

i think that they might use this technology for there laptops next year not the iphone i have a hard time believing apple will go back to a flip phone (normally bulkier)i think they will use it so u can ether have a normal laptop or a tablet pc. (mac)