What you need to know
- Samsung has filed a patent application for a new smartphone design.
- The patent teases a dual-screen phone with a transparent display at the back.
- It looks similar to ZTE's Nubia X, which debuted two years ago.
Samsung might be considering taking its smartphone line to a new level with an innovative design that will make its rear panel a lot more useful than just having a flat surface housing the camera island and brand logo.
A patent application filed with the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) suggests that Samsung is considering developing a new type of smartphone with a transparent display at the back (via SamMobile). According to the application, the second display blends in with the rest of the phone's back panel when not in use.
The patent was filed in January and published this week. The handset depicted in the drawings is similar to an always-on display that flashes certain information even when the screen is turned off.
However, that's just one of a myriad of use cases. A second rear-facing screen might also make it easier to take selfies using the rear camera. According to the documentation, the second screen can "output a live view image of the subject."
If this looks familiar, it is because ZTE launched a similar phone in 2020, known as the Nubia X. There are some key differences, though. While ZTE's version only used a glass panel with a higher opacity to hide a regular screen when it's turned off, Samsung's patent indicates that the phone will have a real display on the back.
The patent document states that the transparent display can "visually expose at least a portion of an inner area of the second surface." Another potential use case is a notification panel.
That said, as with any other patent application, there is always the possibility that this concept will be abandoned at any time. If the patent is granted, on the other hand, it will usher in a new era of smartphone design that, with any luck, will bring dual-screen phones into the mainstream, as Samsung has done with its foldable phones such as the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4.
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Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.