Samsung dominates the folding smartphone market, but nearly every other company are working on their own challengers, and it appears Google’s Pixel team is also planning to join the growing list.
WindowsUnited has uncovered a number of patents describing the most important element of a folding phone – the hinge, and Google appears to have two ideas, with both inward and outward folding designs.
The more traditional inward-facing screen features a deep pocket inside the hinge to accommodate a large fold radius for the flexible screen which does not go away on the outside when the device is fully opened, leaving a prominent raised hinge section even when open.
The other design features an outward-folding screen.
This uses a more traditional multi-segment hinge with Google noting:
In a general aspect, a hinge mechanism may include a plurality of hinge segments, arranged in a row, each hinge segment including a socket formed in the hinge segment, and a joint assembly including a plurality of ball joints, each ball joint of the plurality of ball joints being configured to movably couple a pair of adjacent hinge segments of the plurality of hinge segments, such that the pair of adjacent hinge segments are movable relative to each other.
Both designs were patented in July 2020 and published a few days ago, and while the exact detail is unimportant, the patents is a clear signal that Google is looking to launch its own folding device at some point.