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ZTE patent shows clamshell foldable phone that doesn't quite fold in half

ZTE's patent shows a design that doesn't completely cover the screen when folded. But is this approach worth it?

Published onMarch 8, 2019

A patent design by ZTE, showing a foldable phone.

2019 is truly the year of the foldable phone, as Huawei, Samsung and others bring the product category to market. It looks like ZTE could be considering a rather different take on the foldable phone though.

A patent filed by the World Intellectual Property Office, and spotted by Let’s Go Digital, shows a ZTE foldable phone with a clamshell design. This isn’t a flush fold though, as part of the lower half of the screen still peeks out.

This design could let ZTE display notifications, the time/date, and other information without the need to fully open the phone. This wouldn’t be a game-changing innovation, but it could mean that your phone isn’t completely useless when folded up. Essentially, you’re looking at what could be a take on the always-on display.

A foldable phone patent by ZTE, brought to life by Let's Go Digital.

The design doesn’t seem to have a front-facing camera, while the main cameras are on the back of the base. This setup makes us wonder how you’ll take selfies with a device like this. Hopefully ZTE has a solution in mind if this moves beyond the patent stage and becomes a real product.

Corning is developing foldable Gorilla Glass, obviously
HUAWEI Mate X Foldable Phone Hands On partially folded

It’s not the first time we’ve heard about an unconventional clamshell form factor for foldables though, as Korean outlets reported on similar designs for Samsung’s foldable phones last year. We’ve previously animated these designs, showing devices that still leave a portion of the screen exposed after folding. But Samsung’s purported designs leave a larger area of the screen exposed, potentially opening the door for more complex tasks.

What do you make of the ZTE foldable phone patent? Give us your thoughts in the comments!

NEXT: Motorola foldable phone — Here’s how it’ll apparently use its second screen

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