For some years now, we have been hearing that foldable phones will be launched in the future. In 2009, Samsung demoed a flexible AMOLED display, but it was extremely bulky and the resolution was low. Since then, the company has confirmed that it is interested in the foldable phone space, but until this year, we have not see any phone foldable phone launch in the market as the technical difficulties to make a foldable phone are immense. In October, we finally saw a foldable phone launch in the form of the ZTE Axon M, a dual-screen device which is now available from AT&T in the US.
The Axon M is in fact a surprisingly well-designed foldable phone, with genuinely innovative use cases. It is clear, though, that the time is not ripe yet for dual-screen phones in general. However, this hasn’t deterred Samsung from researching foldable phones and their user interface.
New reports from GalaxyClub and GSMArena point towards a patent application which was filed by Samsung in South Korea back in early 2016. The patent was named ‘Electronic Device Comprising Multiple Display and Method for Controlling Thereof‘. It details the software side of how a potential foldable phone launched by the company could work. As the patent was filed last year, the user interface matches Samsung’s smartphone user interface of that time.
The device with this interface can be used in both portrait and landscape mode. This enables different usage scenarios for the device, and it allows for different ways to display the interface.
In the images, we can see a smartphone user interface with a main screen and a secondary screen. The dual screens can act as a physical split-screen, and both screens have the recent apps switcher. It is possible to use the split-screen feature even on a single display, so that an increased number of applications are open at the same time.
There is another screen mode which will have the apps or games drawing different parts of their interface on each screen. The ZTE Axon M operates in the same manner (in fact, it has three separate screen modes, which we have detailed here).
According to GSMArena, Samsung has thought of even more use cases for the second screen when the phone is folded. For example, when users are reading an e-book, the second screen could show the cover of the book in order to get an experience similar to books.
It is still unknown whether this user interface patent will actually develop into a foldable phone, as many patents filed in the past did not necessarily end up into being smartphones. However, this does show that Samsung has been working on a foldable dual-screen smartphone, even if it is currently unknown when the device will be launched. Regardless, we are waiting to see if dual-screen smartphones end up being more than just a fad in the world of smartphone trends.