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Apple patents folding phone design as rivals ramp up plans

This is the second patent Apple has filed for a foldable phone
This is the second patent Apple has filed for a foldable phone

Apple is exploring new ways to make the screens on its iPhones even larger. 

A patent filed by the Cupertino-based firm has revealed designs for a bendable handset that you can fold in half and carry in your pocket. 

This is the second patent Apple has filed for a foldable phone, and reveals new details of how "overlapping hinges" could be attached to "flexible displays" to allow the device to bend.  

“The hinge may be configured to allow the flexible display to be placed in a front-to-front configuration in which an active side of the display faces itself or a back-to-back configuration," the patent says. 

Apple isn't the only one betting on a foldable device. Samsung has said it is planning to demonstrate a flexible smartphone as early as the end of this year. In an interview, Samsung Mobile head DJ Koh said it was "time to deliver" on a handset.

Meanwhile Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei, told reporters at his company's device launch on Monday: "We have a product in the lab for a 5G foldable phone in progress for next year."

Yu said high-end consumers were demanding larger smartphones. His company released one of the largest new smartphones on the market, the Mate 20X, which features a 7.1-inch screen. 

Some smaller smartphone companies have shown off concept smartphones that use new technology in thin, flexible  screens to create bendable devices. Others, such as ZTE, have launch smartphones with two screens. 

Smartphone companies have been jockeying for innovation in a slowing market. Apple launched its new iPhone XS smartphone earlier this year, while Chinese rival Huawei launched its new Mate 20 Pro.