Despite the enormous success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple was plagued in 2014 by rumors that its new handsets were so svelte that they would bend in the pockets or hands of customers.
Apple got over the resulting PR headache by revealing just how few handsets were actually affected by the so-called “Bendgate” incident. Jump forward a few months, however, and a new patent shows that Apple has at least considered the possibility of embracing bendable iPhones—albeit on its own terms.
In a patent published today by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Apple describes an invention relating to flexible electronic devices such as future iPhones, which can be bent or even folded with no lasting damage to the internal components.
While the vast majority of patents filed by Apple never become actual products–when you’re a big tech company, you patent every idea that comes out of your lab for purely defensive purposes–it’s still a tantalizing look at a possible alternate universe iPhone that would represent a radical redesign of an iconic phone.
The patent notes how flexibility could be used as a user interface element, so that apps could be opened or closed by an action like squeezing the iPhone.
The bendy patent would also allow Apple to continue creating larger iPhones and other iOS devices, as these could be conceivably folded for storage and then unfolded for use.
Of course, in order to pull this concept off, Apple would likely need to ditch its beloved milled aluminum, as used in its current handsets, in place of more deformable materials like soft plastics.
A bendy version of the all-plastic iPhone 5c? We’ve certainly heard stranger rumors over the years. Just don’t hold your breath as far as the iPhone 7 is concerned.
[via Patently Apple]