Remember ZTE's folding phone? Not many people do, but it was one of the very first foldables on the market – although admittedly because it was made up of two screens with a hinge, rather than an actual flexible display.
Now, it seems the company has another folding phone on the way, and this one has another interesting design we haven't seen from the (many) manufacturers jumping on the foldy bandwagon.
A patent filed on the 5th of March discovered by LetsGoDigital details a clamshell folding design – a bit like Motorola's upcoming Razr revival – where the part that folds down leaves a bit of screen visible for notifications and such.
The patent includes quite a few details about the handset: its left edge holds a power button and volume rocker, it charges with USB-C and there's no fingerprint pad or button anywhere – which would suggest an in-screen fingerprint sensor.
As TechRadar notes, the camera setup in the patent images doesn't make much sense. The drawings show two lenses on each side of the phone, which means that when it's unfolded, all four cameras are facing away from you – not much good for taking selfies. Similarly, when it's folded up there are two cameras on each side, but only a tiny strip of screen – again, not much use for seeing what you're taking pictures of.
Of course, the patent drawings are unlikely to be the final design – they're just there to illustrate what's being patented.
For a better idea of what ZTE's phone might actually look like, LetsGoDigital has made some renders, which look pretty different to most phones on the market right now:
It's really interesting that as screen tech has advanced, handset designs have gone back towards the kinds of things we had at the beginning of the smartphone revolution. It's a long time since the word "clamshell" has been used so much in tech media.
What do you think of ZTE's design? Better or worse than the big-name foldables we've seen so far? Let us know in the comments.