OnePlus patents an advanced tri-fold folding smartphone with a double hinge and a handy slider to lock the folding position.

Several brands have now announced a foldable smartphone. For example, Samsung released the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 in the middle of this year. Xiaomi has also released its first folding phone this year, but the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold is only available in China. The same goes for the Huawei Mate X2. For a while it was thought that the Google Pixel Fold will also arrive this year, but it has now become clear that Google is canceling the release for the time being. Nevertheless, several more folding models are expected.

Honor also seems to be getting ready to announce its first foldable phone soon, the Honor Magic X. If we are to believe the rumors, Oppo will also present its first foldable phone before the end of 2021. The ‘Oppo Find Fold’ will reportedly get the same kind of form factor as the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but with an 8-inch inward-folding screen.

Although Oppo has applied for several patents over time for foldable smartphone models, this does not apply to sister company OnePlus. Nevertheless, it is expected that once an Oppo foldable has been announced, it will not be long before a OnePlus foldable phone will also appear.

OnePlus foldable phone with double hinge

In the meantime, LetsGoDigital has discovered a patent from Shenzhen OnePlus Technology for a folding phone with three display parts invented by Gao Yang. It is the very first foldable smartphone patent from OnePlus that LetsGoDigital reports on. That is remarkable, since other leading telephone brands have already recorded dozens of foldable models.

The documentation titled “Mobile terminal” was requested by OnePlus in China at the end of 2020, after which the publication took place on July 20, 2021. Afterwards, the Chinese documentation has also been included in the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) database for worldwide protection of the patented technology.

To get a better idea of ​​this OnePlus tri-fold smartphone, Parvez Khan, aka Technizo Concept, made a series of renders for LetsGoDigital based on the patent images.

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It is a foldable phone that consists of three display parts and a double hinge, which can be folded in different ways. As a result, more user applications are created and the user can benefit from an extra versatile device. When unfolded, you have a large tablet size to work extra productively.

In its most compact form, the device has the dimensions of a regular telephone model – of course the device is a bit thicker. Nevertheless, the device looks slimmer than most tri-fold smartphones that we have reported on to date. The flexible screen is located on the inside, so that it remains well protected against scratches and bumps when folded.

The phone has one large and one smaller hinge. In the folded position, the first display part falls over the small hinge, so that this hinge is also not visible in the folded position. Because the hinges are not the same size, the device will wobble slightly when you place it on the table in fully unfolded position. This is partly because the housing of the first display part is thicker than the other two parts.

OnePlus Tri-Fold

Multiple folding methods increase user options

You can fold the first display part under the second part. Together, these two display parts are just as thick as the third display part. There is talk of multiple folding positions. For example, it should be possible to fully or partially unfold the device, depending on how the user wishes to use the device.

When the folding phone is fully unfolded, the user has a large tablet-sized display at his disposal. The size seems to be comparable to the prototype Samsung Display showed earlier this year and like the TCL tri-fold that was already demonstrated in 2020. If desired, the user can also use only one or two display parts. This benefits the versatility of the device.

OnePlus also seems to see an opportunity to place the device in a triangle. In this way, the folding telephone can be used by several users. As an extension of the first screen part, OnePlus has integrated a rotating turntable, which can be clicked onto the third display part, so that the device can remain in the triangle position. On one display side, for example, a YouTube video can be viewed, while the other side can display, for example, a messaging application or internet browser.

Furthermore, OnePlus has seen an opportunity to apply a magnetic slider system. This is not about the signature Alert Slider. In this case, the circular sliding knob serves to lock the folding position of the device. This prevents the device from folding or unfolding unintentionally during use. The slider is incorporated in the frame of the thick display part. This way it remains easily accessible, regardless of how the phone is folded.

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Optionally, a double-sided display can be applied, whereby both the front and back of the screen are provided with touch functionality. Handy, because this way OnePlus can add a cover screen – as we are already used to from the current Fold models.

The device does not fold in a Z-shape, as was the case with the tri-fold smartphone from Samsung Display and TCL. This has a clear advantage and disadvantage. The advantage of OnePlus’ solution is that the flexible screen remains fully protected when you carry the device with you in the folded position. However, the Z-shape construction of Samsung and TCL has the advantage that the integration of a cover display is unnecessary – which means that costs can be saved.

Should it become too difficult to apply one large flexible screen, OnePlus could also choose to use multiple displays on the basis of the documentation – as we know from the Microsoft Surface Duo, for example.

OnePlus foldable smartphone

Expectatitons OnePlus foldable smartphone

It remains unclear when OnePlus will introduce its first foldable. Possibly the ‘OnePlus Fold’ will arrive in 2022. In any case, it is obvious that the company will first introduce a folding phone with two display parts – after all, this will be cheaper and easier to manufacture than a tri-fold model.

OnePlus has been relatively quiet about folding models for the time being. Halfway through this year, we were a bit surprised when the company put a teaser online of a dual-screen foldable smartphone at the time of Samsung Unpacked.

It was a striking timing, as all the attention was focused on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 that were introduced during Galaxy Unpacked. Afterwards it turned out to be purely a clever publicity stunt by OnePlus. It was a promotional deal in the US where you could buy the OnePlus 9 series at a 50% discount – ‘because 2 devices are better than 1’, was the statement.

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Before the Chinese manufacturer will release a folding phone, the high-end OnePlus 10 series is expected, of which the OnePlus 10 Pro will be the new top model. The global release of these models is planned for late March / early April 2022. In China, the new top models will arrive a month or two earlier.

It is possible that the company will present its first foldable phone later in 2022. Finally, sister company Oppo seems to want to release its first folding phone next month. Since the two companies are increasingly being merged, it is certainly not inconceivable that OnePlus will follow Oppo’s steps. As we have also seen with smartwatches. After the Oppo Watch was introduced in March 2020, OnePlus followed this year with its own OnePlus Watch.

The same seems to be the case for tablets. Both brands have no tablets in their range for the time being, but this seems to be changing soon. Last week, images of the alleged Oppo Pad tablet appeared online. Halfway through this year, OnePlus also applied for a trademark for OnePlus Pad – most likely the name for the first OnePlus tablet. In the coming weeks and months, more will undoubtedly become known about OnePlus’ future plans.

Download official documentation of the OnePlus tri-fold smartphone.

OnePlus smartphone

Note to publishers : The 3D product renders of the OnePlus foldable smartphone are created by Parvez Khan, aka Technizo Concept in collaboration with LetsGoDigital.  The images are based on a patent of Shenzhen OnePlus Technology. This product is not for sale. You can use the copyrighted images for your own website, YouTube and/or social media channels, please be so respectful to include a clickable source link into your publication.

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