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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?
July 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.

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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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