Here at T3, we've been thrilled by the launch of the first folding phones – something you can probably detect in our enthusiastic early verdict reviews of the Huawei Mate X and Samsung Galaxy Fold... even if since then the former has been delayed until September and the latter postponed indefinitely.
The buzz at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow earlier this year was palpable and it was largely down to the emergence of these revolutionary new handsets, which proved very clearly that foldable phones are far from a gimmick. In fact, they might even represent the future of the industry.
What has become apparent since then is that building a foldable smartphone is tough and none of the current designs are perfect. After all, the two most advanced folding devices have been forced back into the development oven to ensure they're consumer ready, so we think it fair to say that over the next few years we are likely to see a plethora of experimental folding phone designs explored.
And, some of the most interesting we've seen so far have just emerged thanks to the unearthing of an official Huawei patent (opens in new tab) by Dutch tech website LetsGoDigital (opens in new tab). The patent, which is entitled "Foldable Mobile Device" details a trio of unique folding phone designs where there isn't just one folding screen, but two.
And, if that double folding design sounds familiar, it is because Xiaomi is reportedly working on the exact same sort of system.
Check out the patent illustrations below for a taste of how the three double folding designs are envisioned to work:
"With the first model, a wide screen border is visible on both the top and bottom of the device," notes LetsGoDigital. "This contains the camera, sensors and a home button. With the second model there is only a bezel on the top, for the front camera and the necessary sensors.
"The third model is the most advanced, there are no screen edges at all. The full screen design extends from the front, to the sides and the entire rear."
It is of this last model that the following 3D renders have been produced, which are based directly on the official patent illustrations. Here, the extendable parts of the screen wrap around a central handset and fan out from either side when the device is transitioned into tablet mode.
To us here at T3.com this design, while appearing quite fanciful today, would offer a couple of benefits, including the ability to have a more wide-screen tablet experience (the illustrations show what looks like a 16:9 aspect ration display), which would be ideal for watching movies, as well as the ability to move the folds from the center of the screen.
If installed with an under-screen camera array and fingerprint sensor, too, then the need for any sort of sensor bar or handle is also removed by this design.
Now, naturally, we certainly don't anticipate the device depicted in this patent to come to market, we don't think it inconceivable that the double screen folding tech it explores won't, and with Samsung, Huawei, Oppo, Motorola, LG and Xiaomi all currently hard at work on foldable smartphones, it could emerge in a consumer-ready device sooner rather than later.
Lead image credit: LetsGoDigital