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Apple granted third patent related to foldable displays

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First spotted by the team over at Patently Apple, it is now known that Apple has been granted their third patent relating to foldable displays.

The first two patents seemed to describe an iPhone-like device, but this third patent clearly describes a foldable tablet (or iPad). This means that Apple has been working on both foldable iPhone and foldable iPad designs — and that they have done enough work with both form factors to feel the need to patent their ideas.

From Patently Apple:

In Apple's patent FIG. 4A above we're able to see device #400 in a fully folded or closed configuration. In the fully folded or closed configuration, roughly two thirds of the display layer #420 is viewable along the first region #481 and second region #482 of the device.

Claim #1: An electronic device comprising: a display layer; and a cover layer coupled to the display layer, the display layer and the cover layer defining: a first peripheral portion configured to display a first graphical output; a central portion configured to display a second graphical output; a first foldable portion extending between the first peripheral portion and the central portion and configured to display a third graphical output; a second peripheral portion configured to display a fourth graphical output; and a second foldable portion extending between the second peripheral portion and the central portion and configured to display a fifth graphical output, wherein: in an unfolded configuration of the electronic device, the first and the second peripheral portions are substantially aligned with the central portion and the first, the second, the third, the fourth, and the fifth graphical outputs together produce a coordinated graphical output; and in a fully folded configuration of the electronic device, the first and the second peripheral portions overlap the central portion and the second graphical output is viewable along an external surface of the electronic device.

Claim #2: The electronic device of claim 1, wherein the electronic device further comprises: a sensor configured to provide an output indicating a configuration of the electronic device; and processing circuitry operatively coupled to the sensor and the display layer and configured to control at least one of the first, the second, the third, the fourth, and the fifth graphical outputs based on the output from the sensor.

Claim #3: The electronic device of claim 1, wherein the first graphical output is viewable when the electronic device is in the fully folded configuration.

Claim #4: The electronic device of claim 3, wherein the third graphical output is viewable when the electronic device is in the fully folded configuration.

Claim #5: The electronic device of claim 1, wherein the first foldable portion comprises: a glass layer defining a relief feature comprising a locally thinned region; and a filler disposed in the relief feature and optically matched to the glass layer.

Claim #6: The electronic device of claim 1, wherein: the first foldable portion comprises a glass layer; and the glass layer has a minimum magnitude of bending-induced stress in an intermediate configuration of the electronic device between the unfolded configuration and the fully folded configuration.

Claim #7: The electronic device of claim 6, wherein the glass layer is chemically strengthened through ion exchange.

Claim #8: An electronic device comprising: a display layer; and a cover layer coupled to the display layer and defining: a first peripheral portion; a central portion; a first foldable portion between the first peripheral portion and the central portion and including a glass material; a second peripheral portion; and a second foldable portion between the second peripheral portion and the central portion and including the glass material, wherein: the display layer and the cover layer are configured to be moved between a fully folded configuration and an unfolded configuration by bending the cover layer along the first and the second foldable portions; each of the first peripheral portion and the second peripheral portion extends over the central portion in the fully folded configuration; and an external surface of the first foldable portion defines a first radius of curvature and an external surface of the second foldable portion defines a second radius of curvature, different than the first radius of curvature, in the fully folded configuration.

Claim #20: The foldable computing device of claim 15, wherein the foldable computing device is a foldable tablet device.




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