Apple patent hints at flexible display that hides speakers, buttons, and more

While we know that the likes of Samsung and Huawei are working on phones with flexible displays, we haven’t seen anything official from Apple just yet. Despite that, it’s almost certain that the company is at least exploring the idea behind closed doors — and now we have an idea of exactly what the company is working on, thanks to a newly published patent.

Unlike some other patents we’ve seen, this particular patent isn’t necessarily about foldable phones. Instead, it relates to using flexible displays to hide things like buttons, microphones, and other visible components on a phone, computer, or another device.

The patent notes the use of flexible displays to hide all kinda of components. For example, it mentions that sound waves from a speaker could pass through the display, or that a button of force sensor could be located under the display, allowing you to press on the display and get a little more feedback than you would with a simple touch display.

So why the need for a flexible display? Why can’t these components be located under a rigid display? Well, the patent mentions that components under the display could receive input through a section of the display that’s physically deformed. In other words, the shape of the display could change a little depending on what it needs to do. For example, a part of the display could serve as a membrane for a speaker, or as a pressure sensor, or something else — all while still being usable as an actual display. And when it’s being used as a button, the display could actually depress in order to feel more like an actual button.

It’s certainly an interesting concept and highlights that companies are increasingly working to do away with the notch on their phones. Being able to hide a speaker under the display could help Apple minimize the notch a lot — and would only leave the front-facing cameras and Face ID tech for the company to hide.

Of course, just because Apple is exploring ways to integrate flexible display tech into the iPhone, it doesn’t mean we’ll actually see a product use it any time soon; the company routinely files patents for tech that doesn’t end up in consumer products.

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