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Apple patents flip-screen iPhone

Apple patents flip-screen iPhone

The patent shows a fold-out touch panel which leaves the top screen free to display data without being occluded.

Gadget aficionados know that there are plenty of things keeping Apple's iPhone from becoming as ubiquitous in the mobile phone marketplace as the iPod did in the portable music biz – but is it something a flip-phone would cure?

Apple is already thinking ahead to its next assault on the world of mobile handsets, and appears to be opting for a strange two-sided design this time around. In a patent application featuring Apple's traditional “draw a box and make 'em guess” 'diagrams' the company has revealed a rather interesting clamshell form factor.

Rather than having mechanical buttons on the bottom half of the shell like a normal flip-phone, or even having two display screens like a Nintendo DS, the patent talks about a double-sided touchpad interface which lives in the lower half. When folded over the display screen, the effect is of a half-size phone with touch-sensitive display – an iPhone Nano, if you will.

When you flip the phone open, you get a multi-touch active trackpad on the base while the top screen takes care of showing what's happening. Whether that's any more intuitive than just pressing on the particular menu item that you want remains to be seen.

The flip-out touchpad is double-sided, too: although only one side is active when it's folded in half, once it's flipped out users would be able to touch both the front and the back sides to make various things happen – scrolling around music folders, for example.

It's certainly a novel design, but smartphone users are used to seeing what they're pressing on and vice-versa, so we're not totally convinced that having the touch-sensitive panel separated from the display screen is exactly a step forward. That said, we could be persuaded - especially if Apple comes up with something stunningly three-dimensional for the double-sided nature of the touchpad.

If you want to check out more images from the patent application, alongside rumours that the technology might be adapted for MacBook use, check out UnwiredView's analysis.

Is a flip-phone form factor going to convince you to get an iPhone, or do you just wish I'd stop wittering on about the damn thing already? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

12 Comments

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Faulk_Wulf 18th March 2008, 09:14 Quote
Ugly. As. Sin.
Glider 18th March 2008, 09:21 Quote
Once Apple changes it's strategy for the iPhone I'd start considering using it... But chances are slim that I'd actually buy one...
DXR_13KE 18th March 2008, 10:14 Quote
and of course, they should make this mobile phone MODERN, as in 3G.....
rjkoneill 18th March 2008, 10:57 Quote
i have 3g on my phone
and i NEVER use it

way i see it with a flip top iphone- more to go wrong
its just a posers party piece, so i leave it alone
DXR_13KE 18th March 2008, 11:39 Quote
well, if it is marketed as an "internet communications device" and runs on snail internet.... it is not that good, is it?
will. 18th March 2008, 12:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Faulk_Wulf
Ugly. As. Sin.
Yea, and all patents are always beautifully designed exact representations of the final product so that all the mac fanboys know what they are going to be buying in 6 months time without any need for hype...
Fod 18th March 2008, 12:25 Quote
ZOMG. a company has filed a patent for something that may (or may not) be implemented at some indeterminate time in the future! EXCITEMENT!

point: companies, including apple, file patents all the time. most of them don't mean anything.
Nexxo 18th March 2008, 14:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Faulk_Wulf
Ugly. As. Sin.
Yeah, just look at what aesthetic monstrosities other Apple products have always turned out to be.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rjkoneill
way i see it with a flip top iphone- more to go wrong
its just a posers party piece, so i leave it alone
Yeah, Motorola flip-phones have been nothing but trouble too. No hang on, they haven't. Their hinges never break and the wiring never fails. My four year-old Razr is still as tight and solid as ever. Gosh, do you think that since the original Startac flip-phone of nearly 10 years ago, they might have perfected the system?

At least Apple's ideas are innovative. Perhaps you are just having difficulty shifting paradigms without a clutch.
Da_Rude_Baboon 18th March 2008, 16:14 Quote
I wouldn't exactly call a flip phone innovative. :p
The_Beast 18th March 2008, 19:50 Quote
that is ugly


its own mother couldn't love that thing
yodasarmpit 18th March 2008, 20:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Beast
that is ugly


its own mother couldn't love that thing
The diagram is a technical representation of the concept, not the manufactured final product.
completemadness 18th March 2008, 20:58 Quote
so this is different from a DS because it has a touch screen on both sides of 1/2?

Seems unnecessarily expensive and complex
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