Apple is working internally on a foldable iPhone, which is expected to be unveiled only after key technological breakthroughs have been made. And Apple’s upcoming foldable iPhone may address one of the pain points of the existing Galaxy Z Fold/Flip series, providing better protection for the foldable device against cracks.
Apple has been granted a patent for a Hybrid Coverlay/Window Structure for Flexible Display, patent number 20210096595. The patent, which was filed in mid-October 2020 and is a continuation of a previous patent, describes technology that can prevent potential screen damage in foldable devices.
Embodiments describe a display module and a protective cover structure. In particular, embodiments describe protective cover structures that can be implemented in curved, flexible, form-conformal and collapsible display modules, especially in relation to curved, flexible, form-conformal and collapsible display panels. Various embodiments in which a hard coating layer is applied to a transparent supported substrate to form a protective coating structure are described.
The hard coated layers can be characterized as having lower elastic modulus, higher elongation at break and, optionally, lower hardness than transparent supported substrates. On one hand, such a hybrid structure prevents the formation of cracks in the transparent support substrate. On the other hand, such a hybrid structure can move the neutral plane of the protective cladding so that the surface of the transparent supporting substrate can see lower strain as it bends.
The patent contains explicit images showing devices that Fold in as well as out, as well as gadgets that can be used like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip devices. Existing folding methods are largely covered in the patent illustration, so it’s not clear what the first foldable device will look like.