A new report states that Apple has partnered with LG Display for a foldable (as opposed to bendable, above) OLED panel, following a report in October which claimed both Samsung and LG were attempting to win orders for OLED displays to be used in future iPhones. Image Credit: Courtesy: 9to5mac

A foldable iPhone or some other Apple electronic gear is coming soon, based on a filing at the US Patent & Trademark Office, numerous tech sites reported.

The California-based tech firm was reported last year to be working with LG on a future foldable iPhone.

The folding device could transform from an iPhone to an iPad using a special hinge that allows it to be folded in half. - USPTO

Now, the US Patent and Trademark Office has published an Apple patent application for a foldable display, fuelling speculation that the tech giant is keen to release foldable and affordable electronic gear soon, according to 9to5mac, a US-based tech news site.

South Korean companies are seen as being on the leading edge of production techniques for foldable panels. Here, a 7-inch foldable display introduced by LG Display during CES 2013, which was held in Las Vegas in January of 2013. This display has two 7-inch panels. - LG Display

Based on the US PTO filing reportedly made by Apple on Thursday, November 23, the electronic device "may have a flexible portion that allows the device to be folded. The device may have a flexible display." 

Samsung eyes foldable smartphone 

It stated further: "The flexible display may have a bending region that allows the display to bend along a bend axis when the device is folded."

The patent filing describes a display that can be "opened and closed like a book". 

Samsung has been experimenting with flexible screens for years. A bendable Samsung phone displayed during a tech exhibition. - Social media

In December 2016, it was reported that Apple has joined forces with LG Dispaly for foldable OLED panels.

Korean tech news site etnews reported then that LG Display is partnering with Apple, Google, and Microsoft on what it describes as ‘out-foldable’ OLED displays.

The report states: "LG Display secured global manufacturers as its partners. Apple, Google, and Microsoft were listed as first buyers of LG Display’s foldable displays."

Apple's application on November 23 with US patents office states: "An electronic device may have a flexible portion that allows the device to be folded. The device may have a flexible display. The flexible display may have a bending region that allows the display to bend along a bend axis when the device is folded." . - USPTO

The reports mentioned an OLED panel, technology currently used in the iPhone X. But the US patent application covers all the bases — referencing LCD, OLED and microLED.

The Korean site reported that LG Display has partnered up with Apple and Google to developing "out-foldable" displays for smartphones.

The company "is going to start mass-producing them in 2018 and supply them to Apple, Google, and Microsoft," the report added. 

It has been reported that Samsung Display and LG Display will compete against each other to grab marketshare for foldable displays. 

While details of the report cannot be independently verified, both Samsung and LG Display had already made public their prototypes for out-foldable panels.

Meanwhile, LG has reportedly completed its own foldable OLED panel prototype and has been upgrading the durability and the yield rate, according to the Korean tech news site.