You will be able to see it at the well-known Dutch site LetsGoDigital who acquired the patents, and we owe these 3D renderings of Oppo's foldable smartphone to them. The manufacturer had already presented a foldable concept smartphone at the MWC 2019 but, just like the Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha, it was never commercialized and hence, seen the light of day.
In today's leaked patents, which might just as well remain in conceptual limbo, we can see a clamshell smartphone that folds vertically like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip or a Moto Razr. However, Oppo's foldable smartphone has a flexible screen that is located on the outside, which is similar to the Huawei Mate X.
"In January 2020, Oppo filed a patent with the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Office). On July 30, 2020, the patent entitled 'Foldable housing assembly and foldable electronic apparatus' was approved and published," said LetsGoDigital. So the concept is still in its infancy. In other words, very far away from reality.
When folded, Oppo's smartphone ends up as a very compact device, just like the Z Flip or the Razr. But instead of having a tiny screen for the user to squint at, it features a large screen area at both the front and back. Based on the 3D renderings, we are able to see the metal frame that sports a wide front that houses the camera module. It's kind of like an upside-down Moto Razr, with the screen on the outside keeping the big forehead company instead of a big chin.
With such a form factor, there is no need for a cover screen. Not only that, the main screen remains usable when the phone is folded. It is therefore unnecessary to integrate a front-facing camera, as the rear camera module also doubles up as a selfie camera when the phone is folded.
"The smartphone incorporates an angle detection module that calculates the angle of rotation between the two housings - one housing is equipped with a magnet, the other with a Hall effect sensor. The idea is to determine how the device is used, so that the user interface can be automatically adjusted accordingly," explains LetsGoDigital.
This concept is at least as intriguing as its technical limitations are obvious. An exterior screen and a single photo module imply significant challenges in terms of manufacturing.
In any case, it remains a simple patent among many others that Oppo files every year. To share more about the fast charging technology involved, the manufacturer explained that it has filed 2,800 patents alone in 2020. So there's no risk of seeing this smartphone coming along anytime soon.
For those who want to see something tangible in the foldable smartphone market, we can console ourselves with the official presentation of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 tomorrow (Tuesday, September 1st).
What do you think of this form factor? Does the flexible screen on the outside make sense to you? Are you more of a fan of a foldable smartphone with a flip (vertical) or a book (horizontal) format?
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