Not only current smartphone leaders Samsung Electronics and Apple, but Nokia, the former top mobile phone maker, seems to be preparing to introduce a foldable smartphone, according to news reports.
According to Phone Arena on Friday, Nokia was granted a patent for a foldable device by the US Patent & Trademark Office last September. The company filed the application for the patent three years ago.
The US organization’s database showed Nokia has a patent for a device with two identical parts and a single flexible display that bends when the two parts are closed, the report said.
Considering the Finnish mobile phone maker already has a patented flexible ribbon-like battery, the chances of Nokia entering the foldable smartphone race are high, sources say.
“It is true that Nokia has the foldable device patent,” a source confirmed to The Korea Herald. “When Nokia sold its mobile phone business to Microsoft in 2013, it did not hand over any patents.”
Currently, HMD Global, a subsidiary of the Taiwanese Foxconn Technology Group, owns the license to produce mobile phones using the Nokia brand.
“Nokia may provide technological help for HMD on producing Nokia mobile phones,” the source added.
Foldable devices are one of seven new trends of the tech world this year, along with artificial intelligence, wireless charging, iris recognition, dual lens cameras, accessories and curved designs, according to market research firm Strabase.
Samsung is likely to release more than 100,000 foldable smartphone units in the third quarter at the earliest as reported by The Korea Herald earlier.
The South Korean tech giant has reportedly completed development of the needed technologies, but has not made a final decision on when to release the device due to marketability and profitability.
“Rumors about foldable devices have been here for more than three years,” an industrial source told The Korea Herald. “Korean firms do have the needed technologies, but they aren’t sure about market demand yet.”
Apple’s iPhone 8 series is forecasted to be curved and the US smartphone maker is also putting effort into applying for a foldable device patent, according to news reports.
LG Electronics is also expected to produce foldable devices in the fourth quarter, local sources say.
“This year is highly likely to be the first year to gauge demand and reveal the outcome, probably by Samsung first,” the source said.
By Song Su-hyun (email@example.com