A Nokia patent was unearthed by Phone Arena yesterday pertaining to a foldable device. The patent was granted to Nokia last September by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Nokia also submitted a flexible battery patent filing in 2013 and now “sources” are telling The Korea Herald things like, “The chances of Nokia entering the foldable smartphone race are high.”
Yet, the existence of the patents is not, itself, confirmation of future product release.
Like the aforementioned flexible battery, Nokia actually filed for the folding device patent (an image from which can be seen above) in 2013. This was before Finnish startup HMD Global launched and acquired the Nokia license. Even if Nokia was investing in folding phones several years ago, that doesn’t mean HMD Global has any intention of pursuing them now.
Phone Arena also suggests that Nokia has been filing similar patents since 2005. Likewise, Samsung has been submitting foldable patent designs for almost a decade without putting a foldable device into mass production. Patented technology can sit for years before being used in any meaningful way — if it ever is. We’re still waiting on Google’s electronic throat tattoos and selfie walking stick.
This is not to say that HMD Global won’t enter the foldable smartphone arena. When/if foldable smartphones become a trend, every manufacturer will naturally want in on it and this is when a foldable phone patent could become very useful.
But HMD was formed less than a year ago and it’s yet to demonstrate that it can make a competent and successful Android smartphone even when working in a proven market.
Add to this that its first Android smartphone, the recently revealed Nokia 6, is notably lacking in innovative features and the notion that it could be on the verge of delivering a groundbreaking folding device sounds rather romantic.
Rumors are circulating that Samsung, LG, Apple and others are working on foldable devices and there are many indications that the technology will appear this year. Analysts suggest that it’s going to be a mighty lucrative business, too. Before the waters have been thoroughly tested, though — before the big smartphone players have launched their first folding device — it’s unrealistic to expect a folding Nokia-branded phone.
That’s my take, what’s yours? Let me know in the comments.