Smashed phone screens could be thing of the past as Apple invents foldable ‘concept iPhone’ that repairs itself

Emilee Geist

APPLE has designed a sci-fi new iPhone that promises to make smashed phone screens a thing of the past.

Detailed in a patent published Thursday, the mobile’s display would be built from a special “self-healing” material that can repair itself in the wake of scratches or knocks.

Artist impression of a foldable iPhone. An Apple patent for the experimental phone was published this week

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Artist impression of a foldable iPhone. An Apple patent for the experimental phone was published this weekCredit: LetsGoDigital

The gadget would also be foldable, using a complex hinge to open and close like a clam shell – making it easier to fit in your pocket or purse.

The patent application was filed in January, but was published on October 1 on the USPTO website, 9to5Mac reports.

“An electronic device may have a hinge that allows the device to be flexed about a bend axis,” Apple wrote in its patent.

“To facilitate bending about the bend axis without damage, the display may include a display cover layer with a flexible portion.”

An image from Apple's patent showing the high-tech hinge the device would use to fold in half

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An image from Apple’s patent showing the high-tech hinge the device would use to fold in halfCredit: apple/uspto
The device would fold open and closed like a clam shell

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The device would fold open and closed like a clam shellCredit: apple/uspto

The California tech titan added: “The display cover layer may also include a layer with self-healing properties.”

Users could trigger an automatic screen repair by applying heat, light or an electric current to the device.

It’s also possible the phone would simply fix itself unprompted.

“For example, when the self-healing coating is dented, the material of the coating may fill the dent even without external intervention,” Apple said.

Bendy phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold have had trouble with delicate screens that are easy to scratch or dent

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Bendy phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold have had trouble with delicate screens that are easy to scratch or dentCredit: Reuters
Samsung had to halt production of the Galaxy Fold and go back to the drawing board after early reviews suggested the screen broke too easily. Pictured is the Galaxy Fold 2

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Samsung had to halt production of the Galaxy Fold and go back to the drawing board after early reviews suggested the screen broke too easily. Pictured is the Galaxy Fold 2Credit: Reuters

It’s not clear how the miracle technology would work, or whether it would be capable of repairing heavy damage or mere surface-level scratches.

As with any patent, it’s possible the self-healing screen design will never make it to market, so don’t get too excited just yet.

The idea would solve one of the key problems that has faced early foldable phones.

Bendy phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold have had trouble with delicate screens that are easy to accidentally scratch or dent.

In March 2019, Samsung had to halt production of the Galaxy Fold and go back to the drawing board after early reviews suggested the plastic display broke too easily.

Motorola released in own folding phone, the Razr, last year

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Motorola released in own folding phone, the Razr, last yearCredit: Motorola

Samsung finally released the device six months later and has opted for thin glass displays instead of plastic ones for its two subsequent folding mobiles.

Previous rumours and leaked Apple patents have strongly hinted that Apple is working on its own foldable phone.

They suggest the device could fold to be the size of a phone – but also open up to act as a tablet.

Huawei, Samsung and Lenovo have all launched foldable devices since Apple submitted its prototype last year.

iPhone tricks to try today

Here are some of the best…

  • Typing cursor – When typing, hold down the space bar to turn your keyboard into a trackpad, letting you move around words and sentences more easily
  • Close all Safari tabs – To do this in one go, simply hold the overlapped squares in the bottom right-hand corner, and press close all tabs
  • Delete lots of photos quickly – Hold down on a photo and then drag your finger diagonally in Photos to select lots of images at once, then hit delete
  • Convert currency quickly – Swipe down from the top of your Home screen (or swipe left to right on an iPhone X or later model), then tap in the bar and type a currency (like $200) and it will automatically covert to your local currency
  • Check if you’re due a battery upgrade – Batteries inside smartphones degrade over time. Just go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health, and check out the Maximum Capacity reading. Generally a battery is considered worn when you’re down to 80% capacity. If you’re below, you can buy a battery swap from Apple
  • Move apps around faster – Hold an app until it starts wiggling, then (while still holding) tap other apps, causing them to stack so you can move them around easier
Amazing iOS 14 feature lets you take a screenshot by tapping the back of your phone

In other news, Apple is heavily rumoured to be releasing a new “Mini” iPhone this month.

The upcoming iPhone 12 could be the first Apple mobile that ships without headphones or a charging plug in the box.

And, Facebook is rolling out a new feature that further attempts to merge its platform with Instagram.

What do you think of Apple’s folding phone plot? Let us know in the comments!


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