The recently released Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is evidence that Samsung likes to innovate and experiment with its smartphones, and based on a patent that has just been filed by the company, even more ambitious handsets are on the way.
According to patent application (opens in new tab) (through XDA developers (opens in new tab) and SamMobile (opens in new tab)), Samsung is exploring the feasibility of a phone with both front and back screens – and if that’s not unusual enough for you, the rear screen would be transparent too.
Seasoned readers will remember that Samsung has been linked with transparent phone screens before, as well as screens that expand and contract via a scrolling mechanism. This filing appears to involve some of the same technology.
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When we say clear display, you wouldn’t be able to see through the phone – but you’d get a phone that can show text and images on the back, even if it looks like it has a normal back box (with the manufacturer’s logo and so on).
One way to think of it is like an always-on screen on the back of the phone. It can be deployed to show notifications, for example, or updates from a specific social media feed. You can see who is calling or what the weather will be like today, even with the phone face down on a surface.
The usual caveats with patent applications apply: these filings do not guarantee the existence of any product, now or in the future. However, they do show ideas that companies are exploring and that they may decide to embed into real devices.
Analysis: Smartphone innovation is not dead yet
We’ve heard a lot of comments in recent years about how there’s a lack of innovation in the smartphone market – and there are, after all, only so many ways to design a plate of glass and metal and plastic with a screen attached to the front.
However, phone makers continue to push the boundaries in terms of what’s possible. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is just one example, with a folding main screen and a smaller secondary screen that can keep you up to date with your notifications.
As this new patent from Samsung shows, more is on the way: perhaps transparent devices similar to those seen in Westworld season four. We have phones that fold, phones that roll, and display technology continues to get more flexible.
If anyone can use a phone with a transparent screen, it’s Samsung. The company leads when it comes to foldable phones – it looks like Apple and Google will follow – and Samsung has also worked on transparent TV technology in the past.