Apple reportedly ordered a large number of Samsung foldable phone display samples last month. That, coupled with a recently spotted patent application for self-repairing screens, suggests the company is imagining how a foldable iPhone would look and work.
Filed in late January and published this Thursday on the USPTO (via 9to5Mac), the patent application offers an interesting way to fix damage caused to foldable displays - perhaps iPhone displays. Here are passages from the documents, which indicate how Apple envisions the self-healing technology to work:
"An electronic device may have a hinge that allows the device to be flexed about a bend axis. A display may span the bend axis. To facilitate bending about the bend axis without damage, the display may include a display cover layer with a flexible portion. The flexible portion of the display cover layer may be interposed between first and second rigid portions of the display cover layer in one example."
"During operation of an electronic device, the display cover layer for the electronic device may be scratched or dented. To improve the aesthetics of the electronic device, it may be desirable for the presence of scratches and dents to be minimized. To help mitigate the number of dents, scratches, or other imperfections in a display cover layer, the display cover layer may include a layer of self-healing material."
It seems that, when a phone's display cover - using Apple's special coating - becomes damaged, whether that's scratched, dented, or cracked, then the material of the coating will fill the defective areas on its own. This self-healing process can also be activated when heat, light, or electricity applied.
The company indicated that a phone's display cover could be made of plastic, glass, or any other transparent material for this self-healing screen technology to work. Apple's patent specifically discussed using transparent conductors to form the heating layer in a display cover.
Keep in mind, although this could be evidence that Apple will release a foldable iPhone, that's not confirmed yet, and it's only speculation now.