LG’s new foldable smartphone case is a bigger deal than it seems

It looks like 2020 will be the year foldable smartphones finally take off. A number of manufacturers have foldable designs in the works, but now it looks like we’ve caught our first glimpse of a case designed specifically for a foldable phone.
LG foldable smartphone case
A new LG patent for a foldable smartphone case has been published. Photo: LG

It’s not far off a year since the Samsung Galaxy Fold was released. It was the first foldable smartphone to hit the market and, although it didn’t quite work out as Samsung expected at first, it’s inspired a number of other smartphone manufacturers to make their own foldable devices.

Samsung’s next attempt at a foldable smartphone is rumoured to be more similar to the classic flip phone in its design.

Rather than folding out horizontally to reveal a tablet-sized screen, Samsung has shown off previews of a device which folds vertically.

Speaking at a presentation earlier in the year, head of Samsung’s framework R&D group, Hyesoon Jeong, said:

“This brand-new form factor that we’re now exploring will not only easily fit in your pocket, but it also changes the way you use your phone.”

But today reports reveal LG has patented a foldable smartphone case. Foldable phones are very expensive to repair because of their screens, so a case which can protect this valuable component effectively will surely be a worthwhile investment.

Samsung Galaxy Fold
Samsung’s Galaxyv Fold had some teething problems. Photo: Marco Verch via Flickr

LG’s new foldable case

According to reports by MS Power User, an LG patent for a foldable smartphone case was published on 27 December.

LG originally filed the patent, titled “case for mobile phones”, with The Hague International Design System and WIPO on 26 June.

The company has not yet released a phone with a foldable screen, so this may be a sure sign that something is on the way.

LG did release a foldable phone, the V50, earlier this year. But the V50 isn’t a foldable smartphone in the same way the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Huawei Mate X or Motorola Razr are.

LG V50
LG released the ‘foldable’ V50 earlier this year. Photo: Aaron Yoo via Flickr

While it does fold horizontally, it features two separate screens. Foldable phones with two separate screens have been around a while, so the V50 is more of a rehash of an old idea.

As you can see in the patent blueprints above, the new LG foldable phone case does appear to be designed specifically for a foldable screen. But there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Not just a foldable case

While we don’t have much to go off other than the patent blueprints, a closer look reveals that this case could in fact be an interesting new take on the foldable screen.

The key feature is the connector strip on the side of the case. This connector gives away the most intriguing feature of the case, which you may otherwise mistake for a foldable screen cover.

In fact, LG’s new patent is a detachable, foldable screen which likely doubles as a wrap-around phone case.

Rather than making a fully-foldable smartphone with an integrated foldable screen just yet, it appears LG is testing the water with a separate foldable screen which users can attach to their phones instead.

It should be a cheaper alternative than buying a fully-foldable phone, but only time will tell if it’s as popular.

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