In October last year, the LG Mobile CEO, Hwang Jeong-Hwan, stated that LG is also developing a foldable smartphone. The CEO added that the company is not so much driven to be the first manufacturer to introduce a foldable screen phone. The device must have added value for the user, according to the CEO.
Over time, LG has applied for various patents, some showing a foldable LG smartphone that consists of two screen parts, others consisting of three screen parts. One showed a folding phone that unfolds into a tablet, with the screen on the inside, while with another smartphone model, the display was on the outside. A clamshell design also came by several times.
In addition to a series of patents, LG has already submitted several trademark applications for names that fit well with the new generation of smartphones, such as LG Flex, Foldi, Duplex, and Bendi. Yet it is still completely unknown which design LG will initially choose.
LG foldable smartphone becomes a clamshell design.
This time, LetsGoDigital discovered a patent from LG Display with some very special images. This is not about patent sketches but actual photos of a folding LG phone. The photos are made in the laboratory and show the screen with a flexible back plate.
Although the housing is not visible, it is clear from the photos which form factor LG is developing. Obviously, that does not mean that this is also the only model that the Korean manufacturer is developing; nevertheless, it is very unusual that lab photos are added to a utility patent. This is the design with which LG carries out far-reaching display tests, which appears to be the design the company wants to use further.
The patent was applied in July last year by LG Display at the USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office). The patent was published on 2 April 2019 with the title ‘foldable plate and foldable display device with the same.
The patent shows an LG foldable phone with a clamshell design. The patent essentially addresses the bending of the flexible display and the flexible plate. The Korean manufacturer has carried out various tests, showing that both the screen and the plate do not show wave patterns or other optical distortions when the display is bent at a small angle.
The display is on the inside, and the screen has a bending radius of 2.5R. It was already mentioned last year that LG was working on a flexible display with a 2.5R bending radius. This corresponds to the fact that this patent was filed halfway through last year. The smaller the bending radius, the flatter the device can be folded.
In 2019, LG will continue to develop its flexible display to achieve a bending radius of 1R; this is the ultimate radius, where the display can fold in half like a piece of paper. This will be the moment that LG wants to put its first flexible phone on the market. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Fold is said to have a bending ratio of 1.5R, although this is not mentioned in the technical specifications of the device and has never been communicated by Samsung itself.
Foldable telephones with a clamshell design
LG is not the only manufacturer that seems to opt for a clamshell design. The Motorola RAZR is expected within the next three months, probably the first device with a folding phone design. Also, Apple seems to opt for a clamshell design and eventually, you may also expect Samsung to bring such a flip phone. Other manufacturers that are likely to develop such a model are Lenovo, Sharp, and ZTE.
It is as yet unclear when LG will introduce its first foldable smartphone. Possibly this will happen in the second half of 2019. By that time, we also expect to hear more about the Xiaomi and Oppo foldable smartphones.