Apple patents self-heating display to stop folding iPhone cracking

Fold iPhone concept
Fold iPhone concept (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

What you need to know

  • A new Apple patent may have solved one of the biggest issues with a folding display.
  • The patent would use a self-heating display to bring the display up to temperature to stop it from getting damaged.

A new Apple patent has revealed how a folding iPhone of the future could stop its display from getting damaged by heating up the screen to a certain temperature.

We're nowhere near a folding iPhone, so don't expect an iPhone 13 that bends in half, but there are plenty of rumors Apple is working on folding iPhone prototypes, with a focus on a clamshell design. A new patent spotted by AppleInsider reveals how Apple could try and overcome one of the biggest issues with folding displays, wear and tear.

From the patent:

An electronic device may have a hinge that allows the device to be flexed about a bend axis. A display may span the bend axis. To facilitate bending about the bend axis without damage when the display is cold, a portion of the display that overlaps the bend axis may be selectively heated. The portion of the display that overlaps the bend axis may be self-heated by illuminating pixels in the portion of the display that overlap the bend axis or may be heated using a heating element or other heating structure that provides heat to the portion of the display overlapping the bend axis. Control circuitry may engage a latching mechanism that prevents opening and closing of the electronic device when the temperature of the portion of the display that overlaps the bend axis is below a predetermined temperature.

The patent pertains to any device with a folding housing and a flexible display, such as a folding iPhone. It uses a temperature sensor, as well as a motion sensor that can detect when you've picked up your phone. It then uses self-heated illuminating pixels to heat the portion of the display that bends, helping to avoid damage.

It was previously thought Apple was working on an iPhone Fold a-la Surface Duo, two displays connected by a hinge, but more recent reports state this is actually a clamshell device with a single display.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9