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.

Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Mobile

Samsung says the Galaxy Fold needs more improvements before it's released

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.
Product Review

It sounds like a Sonos, but the Beam pulls one trick none of its siblings can

Sonos makes really good surround sound speakers for home theaters, but they’re expensive. A cheaper model with great sound would be a win. The Sonos Beam is that speaker, but were too many corners cut to make a more affordable product?
Product Review

Now that every speaker has Alexa, don't you want the best? Get the Sonos One

To compete in the smart speaker space, Sonos could have just made a better-sounding Alexa speaker. But the company has a reputation to uphold, and went much further. Our Sonos One Review reveals how Sonos does Alexa better than Amazon.
Product Review

The Xperia 10 Plus feels great in your hand, but you'll still want to put it down

There has never been a better time to buy a smartphone with an unusual design, and one of the cheaper models out there vying for your attention is the Sony Xperia 10 Plus, with its 21:9 aspect ratio screen.
Trash

How to save yourself money by buying a refurbished iPhone

There’s a lot to consider when you’re looking for a new iPhone, and it can be very expensive. Save yourself some heartache and some money with our guide on how to buy a refurbished iPhone.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Mobile

BlackBerry Messenger to shut down in May, be replaced by enterprise version

BlackBerry Messenger for consumers will shut down at the end of May, nearly six years after it was launched. The app is going back to its roots, in a way, as it is being replaced by the much simpler BlackBerry Messenger Enterprise.
Deals

Apple Watch Series 3 and Samsung Gear S3 smartwatches get big price cuts

The Apple Watch Series 3 and Samsung Gear S3 are at some of the lowest prices we've seen since so far this year. With discounts from Amazon and Walmart, now is a great time to find spring savings on wearables.
Mobile

These are the key settings to change on the LG G8 ThinQ smartphone

The LG G8 ThinQ is finally available. There are a lot of settings turned off by default that may be useful in improving the experience of using the phone. We've rounded up 11 key settings for you to change on the G8.
Mobile

LG reportedly files patent for triple selfie camera on smartphone

LG has reportedly filed a patent for a smartphone with three front-facing cameras. However, if the patent turns out to be true, it may come down as just another gimmick for the struggling mobile phone manufacturer.
Mobile

Best iPhone 7 Plus screen protectors to shield your big, beautiful display

Cracked screens are expensive to replace. Fortunately for you, we've rounded up what's available in terms of protection for Apple's large iPhone 7 Plus. Here are the best screen protectors you can buy.
Mobile

Add style and functionality with the best iPad Pro 9.7 cases

No tablet should be without protection, especially an expensive one. Check out our picks for the best iPad Pro 9.7 cases, so you can add some protection, functionality, and style to your new device.
Mobile

Amazon cuts prices on Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 3 smartwatches

In the market for a new smartwatch? The Apple Watch is the best one, and right now it's a little more affordable than it usually is. The Apple Watch Series 4 and Apple Watch Series 3 are both available at discounted prices straight from…