The foldable smartphone differs from a regular mobile phone in such a way that it offers new possibilities for non-traditional smartphone manufacturers to also enter the market. At the beginning of this year, for example, we published a patent for an Intel folding smartphone that folds into a large tablet. Sharp also seems to be working on a foldable telephone in the background, but this seems to be a clamshell design.
This time the Japanese electronics manufacturer has applied for a patent for a foldable telephone that can be used as a handheld. Mobile gaming is becoming more and more popular, and with the arrival of foldable mobile devices, new possibilities will arise, making the traditional handheld superfluous. We have also seen this with the digital camera; the market for compact cameras has fallen completely in recent years due to the ever-improving smartphone cameras.
Sharp foldable smartphone with round game buttons
Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha applied for a patent in 2017 at the USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office) for a ‘handheld electronic device’. The design patent was published on 2 April 2019 and shows a folding clamshell smartphone.
Since it is a design patent, the description of this patent is very brief. What is striking are the two circles on both sides of the display; these are characterized as ‘interface’. Since it is a handheld, it seems likely that these will be the game control buttons. LetsGoDigital had a set of 3D renders designed as an illustration.
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The folding device is a bit longer than a regular clamshell phone. Looking at the design, it seems to be primarily a mobile gaming device. Nevertheless, the device will also have smartphone functions, as the patent refers to the Samsung Galaxy foldable smartphone, citing an article from ConceptPhones about the Samsung Galaxy Wing.
By bending the display slightly towards each other, you create a good hand position with a slight curve on the screen. We have also seen this trend in TVs and gaming monitors in recent years, aiming to increase viewing comfort and create a more intense gaming experience.
The front consists entirely of the screen surface. No camera or other sensors can be seen. The foldable smartphone from Sharp appears to have two separate housings connected via the display. When you place the device open, the housings are neatly placed against each other. A crack appears between the two housings on the fold line when you fold the phone a little.
About Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha
The Japanese electronics giant Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha (Sharp Corporation) has a long history. The company was founded in 1912 and grew into a major international player in the field of televisions. But also copiers, monitors, smartphones, and even solar panels belong to the range of Sharp.
About 15 to 20 years ago, electronic organizers were very popular before the rise of the smartphone. Although the possibilities were still very limited compared to today’s advanced smartphones, they were handy devices. Sharp was one of the most prominent players in the field of electronic organizers.
However, Sharp’s results have been under pressure for years. The company almost went bankrupt in 2016, in particular, due to increasing competition in the LCD display market. The Taiwanese Foxconn decided to buy a majority stake of 66%, which has stabilized the financial situation.
Foxconn is, of course, best known as a processor supplier for the iPhone and iPad. By taking a majority stake in Sharp, Foxconn is now able to also supply LCD screens for the popular Apple devices. Last year, Sharp started producing OLED displays.
What is the chance that Sharp will release a folding gaming phone?
The question is how Sharp will develop in the coming years. The company is likely to enter new markets to create new opportunities. Earlier this week, it was announced that Sharp would enter the camera market. According to a recently published report from Market Experts, the Japanese company is already doing good business regarding smartphone cameras.
It is certainly not inconceivable that a Sharp foldable smartphone will also be introduced in the future. It is also not the first time that we have come across a folding gaming smartphone. At the beginning of this year, a Samsung gaming smartphone was patented; this device also had a foldable display.
LG also sees a future here and took a taste earlier this year with the introduction of the LG V50 Dual Screen Smartphone. You create a second screen with an optional smartphone case, so you can also use this device as a handheld.