A patent application filed by Samsung with the World Intellectual Property Office, also known as WIPO, (via SamMobile) might give us a clue as to where Samsung might be headed with a dual-screen phone. The patent application concerns a smartphone with a second transparent screen on the back. The rear screen, when turned off, is indistinguishable from the rest of the handset’s rear panel.
Samsung files patent application for phone with front and back screen
In 2018, ZTE launched the Nubia X with a 6.26-inch front-facing LCD display with 1080 x 2280 resolution. a screen-to-body ratio of 93.6%. ZTE was able to build it because it eliminated the selfie snapper. The manufacturer has added a lower resolution 5.1-inch OLED display on the back (720 x 1520).
Image of Samsung’s WIPO patent application showing rear-facing display
The patent application submitted by Samsung appears to envision an always-on display for the rear panel that could only display certain information when not in use, such as the Samsung logo. The display would take up around the bottom 60% of the rear panel with a slot for a triple camera setup in the top left corner on the back of the phone.
The patent was filed last January and as with any patent filed, it is always possible that the innovations mentioned in the application will never see the light of day. However, Samsung has become the main supplier of foldable phones over the past few years, as it took the smartphone dream from the tablet and turned it into the Galaxy Z Fold; the fourth generation model of the latter has just been released.
The Galaxy Z Fold opens like a book as the 6.2-inch external display is dwarfed by the 7.6-inch tablet-sized display that reveals itself when the device is opened. Samsung has also filed a patent on a rollable form factor and filed a patent application for a phone with a sliding screen. The company also just released the fourth generation model of its foldable clamshell Galaxy Z Flip which is quickly taken out of your pocket and opened to become a 6.7-inch smartphone.
In the patent application, Samsung describes the device as having “a housing comprising a first surface and a second surface facing in a direction opposite to the first surface; a first display which is arranged on the first surface and produces a screen in a first direction; and a second display which is arranged on the second surface and provides a screen in a second direction which is a direction opposite the first direction, wherein the second display can be configured to be at least partially transparent so as to expose visually at least a portion of an interior area of the second surface Various other embodiments are possible.
This patent application will probably be shelved at Samsung
The application notes that the name of the submission is “Electronic device comprising a transparent display”. And while there may be a market for such a handset, Samsung seems more interested in making its Fold and Flip foldables more mainstream. One way to achieve this is to produce cheaper mid-range variants of its foldable phones and sell them under the successful Galaxy A brand.
The patent application image shows that the rear screen can occupy 60% of the rear panel
Currently, Microsoft is selling a dual-screen phone with a very different form factor than what Samsung envisions for its dual-screen device. The Surface Duo 2 consists of two 5.8-inch AMOLED displays protected by Gorilla Glass Victus with a resolution of 1344 x 1892, joined by a pair of hinges. When fully opened, the two screens create a large 8.3-inch display (albeit with the hinges between the two screens) carrying a resolution of 1892 x 2688. Even before Microsoft, even before the Nubia X, the ZTE Axon M featured a dual screen built with two 5.2-inch LCD screens each sporting 1080 x 1920 resolution.
Despite the patent application, this seems to be a project that Samsung would put aside for the time being and possibly return at some point in the distant future. For now, the company has its hands full before it even decides whether or not to mass-produce rollable or pull-out phones.