Recent Oppo patent reveals a novel take on the folding phone concept

We’ve heard that a number of manufacturers working on phones with flexible displays, including Samsung and LG. These rumors have been floating around for some years now without any products that use the technology seeing a commercial release. It looks like 2018 may be the year for this, however, and Oppo might also be eyeing a folding phone product of its own.

In a patent published earlier this year, spotted by Phandroid, Oppo has produced a smartphone concept with a display that bends at its top quarter. Seemingly, the display panel would be flexible, allowing it to curve back on itself, but the body itself would be composed of two separate parts attached at a hinge — check it out in the images below.

One advantage of this type of design would be that Oppo could focus on making one excellent camera. Currently, smartphone manufacturers have to produce two separate camera modules for the front and rear of the device, and the front-facing camera is often relegated to second-best. Of course, manufacturers can use this approach to their advantage, optimizing each camera based on its use cases (like selfies at the front and landscapes at the rear). But it’s time-consuming, and costly, trying to implement two brilliant photography components: Oppo might have more success putting its energy into one standout camera for all scenarios.

This actually isn’t a new concept for Oppo, it has experimented in this area before with the Oppo N1 (and N1 Mini, seen below). In that scenario, it was only the camera module that flipped around, however, rather than a portion of the device display. As to whether the flexible screen approach would work better than the previous attempt, I can’t say, though I also can’t think of many other scenarios where this type of design would be an advantage.

Perhaps it could prevent the phone peeking out of the top of shallow pockets? Or the rear-facing display area could show some kind of at-a-glance information when the phone is face down? We may never know because, as with any other patent filing, this is not a confirmation that such a product will ever turn up, or even that Oppo is actively working on it. It’s just a possibility.

What are your thoughts on the potential of this device? Is it something you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments.