OnePlus is patenting an advanced tri-fold foldable smartphone with a double hinge and a convenient slider to lock the fold position.
Several brands have now announced a foldable smartphone. For example, Samsung released the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 in the middle of this year. Xiaomi also released its first foldable phone this year, but the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold is only available in China. The same goes for the Huawei Mate X2. For a while, it was believed that the Google Pixel Fold would also arrive this year, but it’s now clear that Google is canceling the release for now. Nevertheless, several other folding models are expected.
Honor also seems to be preparing to announce its first foldable phone, the Honor Magic X in the near future. If rumors are to be believed, Oppo will also present its first foldable phone before the end of 2021. The “Oppo Find Fold” would have the same type of form factor than the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but with an 8-inch inward folding screen.
Although Oppo has filed several patents over time for foldable smartphone models, this does not apply to sister company OnePlus. Still, it’s expected that once a foldable Oppo is announced, it won’t be long before a OnePlus foldable phone appears as well.
OnePlus foldable phone with double hinge
Meanwhile, LetsGoDigital has discovered a patent from Shenzhen OnePlus Technology for a foldable phone with three display parts invented by Gao Yang. This is the very first folding smartphone patent from OnePlus that LetsGoDigital talks about. This is remarkable, since other major phone brands have already registered dozens of foldable models.
The documentation titled “Mobile Terminal” was requested by OnePlus in China at the end of 2020, after which the publication took place on July 20, 2021. Subsequently, the Chinese documentation was also included in the World Office database. of intellectual property (WIPO). for worldwide protection of patented technology.
To get a better idea of this OnePlus tri-fold smartphone, Parvez Khan aka Technizo Concept made a series of renderings for LetsGoDigital based on the images in the patent.
It is a foldable phone which consists of three screen parts and a double hinge, which can be folded in different ways. As a result, more user applications are created and the user can benefit from a more versatile device. When unfolded, you have a large tablet size to work very productively.
In its most compact form, the device is about the dimensions of a regular phone model – of course, the device is a bit thicker. Still, the device looks thinner than most of the tri-fold smartphones we’ve reported so far. The flexible screen is located inside, so that it remains well protected against scratches and bumps when folded.
The phone has a large and a smaller hinge. In the folded position, the first display part falls on the small hinge, so that this hinge is not visible in the folded position either. Since the hinges are not the same size, the unit will wobble slightly when you place it on the table in the fully unfolded position. This is partly due to the fact that the housing of the first display part is thicker than the other two parts.
Multiple folding methods increase user options
You can fold the first part of the screen under the second part. Together these two display parts are just as thick as the third display part. We are talking about several folding positions. For example, it should be possible to fully or partially unfold the device, depending on how the user wishes to use the device.
When the foldable phone is fully unfolded, the user has a large screen the size of a tablet. The size appears to be comparable to the prototype Samsung display shown earlier this year and like the tri-fold TCL which was already shown in 2020. If desired, the user can also use only one or two display parts. This benefits the versatility of the device.
OnePlus also appears to see an opportunity to place the device in a triangle. In this way, the foldable phone can be used by multiple users. As an extension of the first part of the screen, OnePlus has integrated a rotating turntable, which can be clicked on the third part of the screen, so that the device can remain in the triangle position. On one side of the display, for example, a YouTube video can be viewed, while the other side can display, for example, a messaging app or an internet browser.
Additionally, OnePlus saw an opportunity to apply a magnetic slider system. This is not the signature alert slider. In this case, the circular sliding button is used to lock the folding position of the device. This prevents the device from inadvertently folding or unfolding during use. The cursor is integrated into the frame of the thick screen part. That way, it remains easily accessible no matter how the phone is folded.
Optionally, a double-sided screen can be used, with the front and back of the screen having touch functionality. Handy, because in this way OnePlus can add a cover screen – as we are already used to from the current Fold models.
The device does not bend in a Z shape, as it did with the tri-fold smartphone from Samsung Display and TCL. This has an obvious advantage and disadvantage. The advantage of the OnePlus solution is that the flexible screen remains fully protected when you carry the device with you in the folded position. However, Samsung and TCL’s Z-shaped construction has the advantage that incorporating a cover screen is unnecessary, meaning costs can be saved.
If it becomes too difficult to apply a large flexible screen, OnePlus could also choose to use multiple screens based on the documentation – as we know from the Microsoft Surface Duo, for example.
OnePlus foldable smartphone
We still don’t know when OnePlus will present its first foldable. Maybe the “OnePlus Fold” will arrive in 2022. In any case, it’s obvious that the company will first introduce a foldable phone with two display parts – after all, it will be cheaper and easier to manufacture. than a three-pronged model.
OnePlus has been relatively quiet on the foldable models for now. In the middle of this year, we were a bit surprised when the company posted a teaser for a foldable dual-screen smartphone at the time of Samsung Unpacked.
It was striking timing, as all the attention was focused on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 which were introduced during Galaxy Unpacked. Afterwards, it turned out to be just a clever publicity stunt from OnePlus. It was about a promotional deal in the US where you could buy the OnePlus 9 series at a 50% discount – “because 2 devices are better than 1,” the release said.
Before the Chinese manufacturer launches a foldable phone, the high-end OnePlus 10 series is expected, of which the OnePlus 10 Pro will be the new high-end model. The global release of these models is scheduled for late March / early April 2022. In China, the new high-end models will arrive a month or two earlier.
It’s possible the company will present its first foldable phone later in 2022. Finally, sister company Oppo looks set to release its first foldable phone next month. With the two companies increasingly merged, it is certainly not inconceivable that OnePlus will follow in Oppo’s footsteps. As we have also seen with smartwatches. After the launch of the Oppo Watch in March 2020, OnePlus followed suit this year with its own OnePlus Watch.
The same seems to apply to tablets. The two brands don’t have tablets in their lineup at the moment, but that seems to change soon. Last week, images of the alleged Oppo Pad tablet appeared online. In the middle of this year, OnePlus also filed for a trademark application for OnePlus Pad, possibly the name of the first OnePlus tablet. In the weeks and months to come, we will undoubtedly know more about OnePlus’ plans for the future.