A foldable iPhone could be closer than ever thanks to this new patent

Iphone Fold Concept
(Image credit: ConceptsiPhone)

Apple is already late to the foldable phone game, but the company has now been granted a new patent that might change all that sooner or later.

While the likes of Samsung and Motorola continue to release foldable phones, Apple seems keen to ensure that its first foldable becomes the best iPhone ever. But, to do that, it needs to make sure that it learns from others' mistakes and creates new technologies to up the foldable ante.

That's where this new patent appears to be going. Granted to Apple on Tuesday, it seems to suggest that Apple is working on a product that will allow people to interact with multiple parts of the device — not just those that are obviously touch screens.

Can you fold an Apple?

The new patent was first reported by CNBC and appeared to suggest that Apple is set to go beyond the usual idea of making a phone bend in the middle and calling it a day. Instead, Apple describes users as being able to touch the side of the device to interact with a "virtual shutter button."

Another example includes a user being able to slide their finger up and down the side of the device to control its volume. At the same time, some images show a foldable phone or iPad-like tablet with what appears to be a wraparound display, the report notes.

It's increasingly apparent that Apple is working on a foldable iPhone or tablet, but which will ship first, nobody really knows. Samsung appears to expect the iPad to fold first, while other reports have Apple making a notebook-like device that would fold in the middle and have a screen around the 20-inch mark.

While there's no suggestion that the upcoming iPhone 15 will fold, it's surely only a matter of time before at least one Apple product does.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.