Samsung is reportedly working on a phone that could potentially replace its Z Flip range. A patent has been discovered that shows a similarly small handset with a flexible display, but instead of opening like a clam shell, the screen slides up.
We've seen sliding phones before, including the Motorola Rizr, which we went hands-on with at Mobile World Congress last year, but the Samsung device is a little different.
The closed form factor looks like a small square box with the front screen then expanding to form a complete handset.
The patent was spotted by Website Rating in collaboration with online leaker XLeaks7 (and via MySmartPrice). It details how the flexible OLED display can unfurl to create the expanded phone and while it was originally filed in June last year, it has only just been published by the US Patent Office in full.
It follows a similar Samsung patent leak, except from European sources. That time there were a couple of expandable devices cited, with the names Flex Magic and Flex Magic Pixel. The concept is similar though.
The US patent describes a method of unrolling the display (which could also be LCD, not just OLED) that prevents it from cracking. It seems stability and durability are the key signifiers here.
Whether consumers are willing to embrace yet another new form factor before they've really got used to foldable phones is up for debate. It's unlikely we'll see anything on this front for a fair while, though. Patented products can often take many years to come to fruition, if at all.
It may be that the technology detailed ends up being used for something completely different. Either way, it is clear that now we have flexible display technology, companies are looking for multiple use-cases, and we have to applaud that commitment to innovation.
And anything that means we don't necessarily have to carry around a 6.9-inch slab of glass in our pockets is certainly worth a second glance.