It looks like Apple's folding iPhone could save itself from frightening falls

A newly discovered patent shows a folding iPhone that can automatically close when it thinks you've dropped it

Michal Dufka folding iPhone concept
(Image credit: Michal Dufka /

The much-rumoured folding iPhone is still shrouded in secrecy, but if you go digging through Apple's patent filings you can sometimes discover some clues. And our friends at Techradar have done just that, unearthing a patent that suggests some seriously clever tech that could protect your foldable phone from accidental damage if you drop it or knock it off a table.

According to the patent, Self-Retracting Display Device And Techniques For Protecting Screen Using Drop Detection, an iPhone Fold could use an accelerometer or similar sensor to detect when it's falling. That sensor would then activate an electronic latch to try and snap your iPhone shut before it hits the ground. 

Is a self-closing folding iPhone really possible?

Well, anything detailed in a patent is technically possible. But long-time Apple watchers will be well aware that what Apple patents doesn't always end up in production. Sometimes that's because it turns out to be too expensive, or too complex, or because the technology it's designed to use hasn't made it out of the labs yet. And sometimes Apple decides it just isn't worth doing, or worth doing just yet.

This one's interesting, though, because unlike some of Apple's wilder, more speculative patents it seems to be firmly rooted in reality. Apple isn't saying that its system would necessarily be able to snap the folding iPhone closed in time, but it suggests that even a slight closure – "even folding the display to an angle less than 180 degrees" can still "afford some protection". Instead of the screen hitting the ground like a bad belly flop, a slightly tented iPhone would take the impact on the bezels around the screen or the metal frame that encloses them. 

If you'd like to see the patent for yourself it's online at the US patent office's website here

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (