Samsung is edging closer to its final foldable phone design according to recently submitted patents.

The designs, dated by the US Patents Office as the 31st January 2017 and spotted by PhoneArena, reveal a flexible display device that folds in the middle.

This is not the first hinged, foldable device patent we’ve seen from Samsung. In fact there have been quite a few. Recent patents have been quite similar in shape and concept – a device that folds like an old flip phone with a hinge in the middle.

This patent is no different and reveals that Samsung is planning a familiar design for its new breed of flexible devices.

Early concepts for its flexible technology (as far back as 2011) explored unusual design ideas that included cylindrical shapes, from which the display rolls out like a window blind.

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But it appears that the Korean tech giant is settling on a fairly pedestrian book-like shape.

Design-wise the book shape makes a lot of sense. The non-flexible components need to be housed somewhere and that’s a hurdle the early concepts didn’t really tackle.

One of the other hurdles Samsung will need to overcome is how necessary this technology actually is.

It’s not enough to just be first to market with a new idea, it needs to be useful for consumers.

Folding your phone in half will save some space in your pocket, but if you have to unfurl your handset every time before you use, that feels like a step backward to the early flip-phone days.

If, however, the phone can be used in when it’s both folded and unfolded – effectively doubling screen size as and when you need to – then that could be a game changer. Especially for multiplayer gaming or tech demonstrations.

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