Google patent shows off a hinged smartphone with selectable displays

We’re approaching the end of an epoch in smartphone design, and it’s clear that phones are about to get a whole lot weirder. Samsung, Huawei, and Apple have all thrown their hats into the ring with smartphones that unfold to create a larger display — but Google has been largely quiet on the subject. However, that’s no longer the case, as Google has been awarded a patent on a folding, hinged smartphone by the U.S. patent office.

So much of the patent describes a device we’ve seen in multiple other folding smartphones — the device would be able to be used as a regular phone in its folded position or unfolded into a tablet mode. Other inclusions in the patent are not as common, such as the laptop-style desktop mode, or the tent-like dual user mode, which would allow the use of both screens at once by two different users. That usage, in particular, could be the start of a whole new local multiplayer trend on mobile devices, with both players being able to make use of the same device or even watch different video streams on the same device.

Another interesting element of the patent is an emphasis on being able to swap screens on the fly while in phone mode. The patent mentions user input is used to select a screen but also mentions using other, intelligent methods to swap screen, including object proximity (so if it’s been placed facedown it will use the other screen), detected user grip, or data from other sensors. Interestingly, this implementation would allow a manufacturer to remove camera lenses from one side of the phone entirely, as the phone would — in theory — be able to sense if the user had turned the device around to take a selfie, and would show the viewfinder on the side facing the user.

Interestingly, some of the patent images include Motorola’s logo. It would be odd for this to be a placeholder logo when Google’s own would have done, so it’s possible Google is working with Motorola to design a foldable smartphone. Motorola was previously awarded a patent for a foldable smartphone, so it’s possible the two companies are combining forces like the Nexus phones of yore.

However, with the patent only having just been awarded, it’s likely this theoretical device is still some years away. With Samsung gearing up to release its foldable smartphone and other manufacturers seemingly not much further behind, Google or Motorola would definitely be playing catch-up.

Mobile

The Motorola Razr may return as a foldable phone — for $1,500

The Motorola Razr V3 is one of the world's most iconic phones, and it could be making a stylistic return in the form of a foldable Motorola smartphone -- but it may cost around $1,500. Is the nostalgia worth it?
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: New Motorola flip phone, ads in space, smart umbrella

On this episode of Digital Trends Live we discussed trending headlines like foldable smartphones and advertising in space. We also sat down with Caleb Denison and Ronan Glon to talk about the world of tech post CES 2019.
Mobile

Benchmark scores surface for Google's midrange Pixel 3 XL Lite

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL.
Mobile

Samsung's advanced folding phone needed 'total reconfiguration' to make it real

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy Fold, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.
Mobile

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.
Business

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

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 sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Windows 10 Mobile is dead: Switch to iOS or Android, Microsoft says

A Microsoft support page detailed the company's plans to end support for Windows 10 Mobile in less than a year. Users with devices powered by the platform are suggested to switch to iOS or Android devices.
Mobile

How to use iOS 12’s Passwords and Accounts tool to autofill passwords

Keeping track of all your passwords and accounts can be a real chore. If you use an iPhone with iOS 12, then you don't have to. Here's how to use iOS 12's own password manager to autofill passwords.
Computing

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!
Mobile

Razer’s Wireless Charger will turn your desk into gamer heaven

The Razer Wireless Charger adds colorful flair to your desk or bedside table. It works with any phone that supports Qi wireless charging -- with some quirks -- but is it worth the high price tag? We take a look.
Gaming

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Wearables

The best Apple Watch bands and straps to stylize your timepiece

If you have an Apple Watch, you know how easy it is to take off the strap it came with, so why not buy yourself another one? Here, we've gathered the best Apple Watch bands we've seen so far. There's something for everyone.
Mobile

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.