Apple’s latest patent shows off what a foldable iMac could look like

Apple patents
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has been skirting the idea of foldable MacBooks, iPhones, and even iMacs before, and this latest patent, spotted by Patently Apple, doesn’t use a folding display, but a folding glass panel at the bottom for a super sleek-looking all-in-one desktop.

It is but a patent, however, so it’s unlikely we’ll see something like it anytime soon, but as a proof of concept for Apple it’s a pretty snazzy-looking piece of future tech.

Folding ‘desktops’?

Yes, we’ve already seen folding laptops and phones (and we mean where the screen folds, not the traditional hinge design that’s been around for donkey’s years), but we haven’t yet seen any folding desktops. This patent lays out Apple’s plan for just that — although it seems like there’s going to be a twist on the smoothly folding hinge design.

Rather than folding the screen, the whole of the front of the device will be a glass panel that folds at the bottom for a kind of sweeping desktop look. A keyboard and trackpad can be slid out from behind the device, out of a rear stand that supports the iMac, and then placed on the desk-bound portion of the folding front.

Apple Patents

(Image credit: Apple)

It looks extremely sleek, and the patent goes on to note the uses of the folding portion of the screen. For one, it will take up less desk space when folded, allowing for a smaller footprint. It can also be used to adjust the angle of the screen, so that you could get the iMac at the perfect (almost — we’ll get to that later) angle, and it could even make it easier to cart around the house, or the office.

Not that this is a portable device, however — there’s no mention of batteries in the patent. The future is unlikely to hold a portable iMac.

Folding iMac — iMore’s take

We can all agree that the iMac in the patent looks cool, right? Like a computer from the future, all smooth lines and folding tech. It would have a cool presence on the desk, with that swooping lower portion.

The problem (and we said we’d get back to this) is adjustability. There is a note in the patent for angular adjustment, to make sure that you can see the screen depending on the lighting parameters of your space, but there’s no height adjustment. Now, granted, there’s no height adjust on the stand for a current model M1 iMac, but you can at least stick that one on a book to make it stand a little taller, or mount it on Vesa arm so that you can better change the position of the monitor. 

This one, however, seems too wide to go on a book (unless you’ve got one of those massive coffee table books filled with pictures of mountains), and given the nature of the folding section on the bottom, it seems unlikely that it will support Vesa mounting.

Apple Patents

(Image credit: Apple)

It is a cool idea — one that if a reality will not come for some time. As with all Apple patents, it is more a statement of what the firm might want to do at some, made into an official document so that no one else can do the idea first. The Apple patent list is a list of ‘what-ifs’, and it’s likely that this one will stay just that.

One that’s happening for certain, however, is the Apple event on September 12. There’s unlikely to be a new iMac (unfortunately), but there is definitely going to be a new line of iPhones — the iPhone 15 and its family to be exact.

Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.