Fold iPhone conceptSource: 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.

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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.