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Samsung patent shows what could be a better alternative to foldable phones

Samsung's latest patent filing shows a device with a retractable screen, but will it ever see the light of day?

Published onJuly 15, 2019

A LetsGoDigital render, showing a Samsung phone with a retractable screen.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold represents the Korean firm’s bid to make a smartphone/tablet hybrid, but a new patent suggests that the company is investigating another solution.

LetsGoDigital has unearthed a Samsung patent that shows a smartphone with a retractable screen. The screen extends on the right-hand side, giving users a tablet-sized viewing experience. Retract the display and you’re left with a smartphone-sized viewing area.

There doesn’t seem to be a seam in the middle of the screen when pulled out, which suggests we’re not looking at a ZTE Axon M-style two-screen solution. But are we looking at a bendable display that rolls out, a layered approach, or something equally drastic? We don’t know, the patent filing doesn’t detail how it actually works.

A Samsung patent shows a smartphone with a retractable screen.

The filing’s images also show a punch-hole cutout, a USB-C port at the bottom (along with a speaker grille), and no 3.5mm port.

This certainly seems like an interesting alternative to a traditional foldable phone though, provided that they can overcome any technical hurdles. Some potential challenges include the actual retracting mechanism, which may be complex, display durability, and battery capacity.

In any event, this form factor might have at least one advantage over the Galaxy Fold. Samsung’s foldable doesn’t seem ideal as a smartphone due to the tiny phone screen and thick bezels. But this patent filing shows a design that doesn’t seem like a major compromise in either the phone or tablet form factors — although there is a discrepancy in bezel sizes between the two sections.

This is only a patent filing for now, which means Samsung might not even ultimately release a commercial product. What do you think of a smartphone with a retractable screen like this? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

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