New patent shows HTC’s first foldable phone – See the photos here

HTC made headlines recently by releasing its first-ever 5G-enabled smartphone, after taking a break from mobile manufacturing to focus entirely on the VR (virtual reality) market. The company is now back with a foldable phone design.

The HTC U20 5G was released shortly after the appointment of a new CEO, Yves Maitre, in 2019. Less than a year later, HTC also introduced a budget smartphone, the Desire 20 Pro.

Maitre is determined to have place HTC among the top phone manufacturers again by 2025. To show that it means business, the Taiwanese manufacturer recently filed a patent for its foldable smartphone.

HTC foldable smartphone: Here’s what we know

Patent document

Let’s Go Digital unearthed a patent for a ‘foldable display device’ that was filed with the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) only three months after Yves Maitre’s appointment as CEO.

The documentation was approved and added to the WIPO database in August 2020. The patent description furthermore referred to a foldable device “in the form of a smartphone or tablet”.

The device would also feature a hinge, allowing customers to use it “half-open” or completely flat. The comprehensive 37-page patent document can be viewed here.

htc first foldable phone
Image supplied by Let’s Go Digital.

HTC foldable phone foldable phone hinge

All necessary components for the hinge are discussed in detail. The phone would have two support modules on either side of the device, in which “different gears ensure that the flexible display panel is not over-stretched”.

Let’s Go Digital explains that this mechanism would reduce the screen from damage when the device is opened or closed. However, this mechanism also allows the hinge to protrude ever-so-slightly from the housing.

This, in addition, raises a slew of questions that the patent document fails to answer: Would the hinge catch on closing or items in your bag? Could dust and dirt accumulate around the hinge?

Screen and display

Based on the sketches supplied, the HTC smartphone has a flexible outer screen, referred to in the patent document as an ‘outward folding device’. This is similar in appearance to the Huawei Mate X.

htc first foldable phone
Image supplied by Let’s Go Digital.

The patent shows that the development of foldable smartphone in its early stages. The device would feature a full front screen without a wide “camera border”. We are, therefore, unsure where HTC would place the camera system.

However, the question remains whether HTC, who has been out of the phone manufacturing scene for some time, would be able to pull this off in the current overcrowded smartphone industry.

Based on the patent sketches, Let’s Go Digital’s design team created the colour renders used in the article to give an idea of the phone’s final design. The renders were used with explicit permission from Let’s Go Digital.

“The LetsGoDigital design team has made a series of 3D colour renders to better visualise the patented technology. We have also reserved the freedom to fill in certain missing design elements ourselves. For example, we opted for a clamshell model, all the more because the documentation repeatedly mentions the possibility of using the foldable smartphone both half-open and fully open”.

htc first foldable phone
Image supplied by Let’s Go Digital.

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