Samsung tablet with flexible display spotted in new design patent

May 19, 2013
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Samsung Youm OLED flexible display demoed at CES 2013.

Samsung Youm OLED flexible display demoed at CES 2013.

Samsung has been recently granted a design patent for a tablet PC that appears to have a bendable display.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Samsung a slew of patents earlier this week including two design patents for tablets. As always with patents – whether awarded or not – keep in mind that they do not portray actual products, and we may never see the devices shown in patent images come to life. But such patents indicate that Samsung is definitely exploring various tablet designs including slates with flexible displays or bendable areas. These patents have been both submitted for review last summer.

That said, in these images you’ll be able to observe the two tablet designs awarded to Samsung. Patent number D682,264 (filed in June 2012) shows images of a “Tablet computer” that comes with a built-in case and a handle (second image below). In addition to the offered images, other details are not mentioned.

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Samsung Design Patent D682,263 for a “Tablet PC” – filed in July 5, 2012 and granted on May 14, 2013.

Most interestingly, patent D682,263 (filed in July 2012) shows a “Tablet PC” that appears to have a bendable display. As you can see in the image above, the tablet PC can be folded along the dotted line. However, the patent clearly states that the dotted lines are not parts of the claimed design:

The broken lines shown in the figures represent portions of the tablet PC which form no part of the claimed design.

Patent ‘263 isn’t offering any more details than patent ‘264 does, but what’s clear from the drawings is that the “tablet PC” has a screen with a flexible section. We can only speculate that the bendable part of the tablet’s display could act as some sort of a touchscreen keyboard, while also acting as a stand when users would hold the tablet in landscape mode on a surface. The rest of the display would presumably continue to act as a display.

Interestingly, it’s not clear what the difference is between a “tablet computer” and a “tablet PC,” the two products described in these newly awarded patents.

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Samsung Design Patent D682,264 for a “Tablet computer” – filed in June 20, 2012 and granted on May 14, 2013.

As recent reports have shown, Samsung is not yet ready to mass-produce flexible displays in enough quantites to meet consumer needs. While still showing off its advancements in flexible display tech at consumer shows, Samsung is not yet ready to launch a product featuring such a panel. The company’s own JK Shin has more than once deflected a clear answer when asked about the first Samsung products featuring a flexible display.

Most recently, when asked whether the Galaxy Note 3 would pack such a screen he said that more time is still needed without making other comments. Another report recently claimed that the Galaxy Note 3 would not feature a flexible display as previous rumors suggested.

That said, we have no idea when a Samsung tablet with flexible display could arrive. So far this year, Samsung has announced two new tablets, the Galaxy Note 8.0 and the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0, with at least two more models rumored to arrive, the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 and the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. Rumors have also mentioned an 11-inch Nexus-branded Samsung tablet, which is yet to be confirmed.

AA Staff contributed to this story.

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