iPhone 2.0, iPhone 3.0 or iPhone Nano – a clamshell/flip phone?

When talking about how Apple is gonna take over mobile phone industry, one of the things that is very rarely talked about, is iPhone form factor.

There’s a reason we have mobile phones in tens of shapes and sizes, and a number of form factors. Some people prefer to have a clamshell or slider in their pocket.

And iPhone is just one pretty wide candybar, the phone factor that can appeal to many, but may not be suitable to even more.

So can Apple come up with something as appealing as iPhone, in another form factor, e.g. – clamshell.

Yes. It does:


The drawings above, are Photoshop renderings, based on a device described in a recent Apple’s patent application, called “Dual sided trackpad“.

It shows that Apple may indeed be working on a clamshell iPhone device. But with a twist.

iPhone 2.0 clamshell patent

The main idea with this device is to separate capacitive touch sensor array and the phone display into two separate units. Then put the touch sensor array on a translucent (transparent) panel, make this panel touch sensitive on both sides – top and bottom and connect them with a hinge.

That’s it. You’ve got you flip iPhone.


When device is closed, transparent touch sensitive panel is covering the whole display area and you’ve got your ordinary full multi-touchscreen iPhone.

When you flip iPhone open, you have a normal phone display and another side of the trackpad becomes multi-touch-active. Through it you control the phone:

  • If you want to dial a number, you can just draw it on a trackpad.
  • Or the rotational dial may appear on display, and you rotate it by sliding finger on a track pad.
  • In the open mode, the transparent trackpad can easily be made to display the standard T9 keypad and other symbols. That can be accomplished by making polarized number and symbol markings that can only be seen when the trackpad is open. Or they can be implemented as tiny LED’s.
  • When needed, you can keep both sides of the cover/trackpad touch-active at the same time. Thus having “six degrees of freedom” for control, and enabling 3D gestures on the device. Standard multi-touch gestures along “XY” axis on one side of trackpad, adding “Z” axis for the touch events on the other.

This dual sided trackpad approach can be applied to media player functionality as well. When media player mode is selected and cover is closed, it works just like iPod Touch does – media controls on the screen and you control it via touch/gestures.

Flip it open, and another side of the trackpad acts as a scroll wheel on a standard iPod and more.


So what’s the point of all these shenanigans?

Well, for one, you can make the overall device much smaller, when closed. It will be much more convenient to carry around and will fit well in your pocket.

And it’s also about this clamshell form factor thing. I know quite a few people that won’t even consider any other form of device for a mobile phone.

Also notice how all the pictures in here are pretty similar in shape to the latest generation of iPod Nano?

Well, this might be yet another way Apple may take to create iPhone Nano device.

And a stand alone iPod Nano may also benefit from such setup. Same size, with two times bigger display. iPod Touch Nano or iPod Nano Touch, anyone?

iTablet, Macbook with dual sided trackpads too? Why not

While dual sided trackpad on a new phones is interesting, Apple sees much wider applications for the whole idea.

One of them is Apple Tablet.

Just take the standard laptop form factor, put all the electronics behind the display panel, and make all the bottom part into a transparent dual sided trackpad. And you’ve got yourself an iTab:


  • In a closed position, it becomes a standard slate tablet computer, with a multi-touch touchscreen.
  • Open it to up-to 160 degree angle, and it becomes a normal laptop computer. The bottom side becomes the control device, with multi-touch trackpad and/or keyboard functions. Add polarized light symbols and/or that multi-touch keyboard technologies, that Apple has been developing for a while now, and overall experience might be richer then on today’s Macbook.
  • Then, if the tablet is open form more then 160 degrees, sharing mode can be enabled. The picture on display rotates 180 degrees, towards the person(s) you are making the presentation for, and you control the process via trackpad on your side. Or split screen mode can be enabled, so both you and the presentee see the same picture.

And, of course, the same dual sided transparent trackpad technology can be applied to your standard Macbook computer. Why? Think Sideshow, just simpler to make and use, cheaper and more capable.


When your computer is open, it’s just another multi-touch trackpad. Close it, and the trackpad becomes a small external display (just like Vista Sideshow), with full multi-touch capabilities.

You can check your e-mails, control iTunes music player, receive weather alerts and quite a few other things.

And, as patent application says, when OLED displays become mainstream, they will allow only a small part of the display that is visible through the trackpad to be active.

Now think about wide trackpads that are on Macbook Pro’s already. Make the dual sided transparent trackpads a little bigger in size – something like current iPod Touch. Think about laptop battery. Touchscreen. MacbookAir…

Currently both your iPod and Macbook gives you several hours of music, video playback and net browsing on one charge.

But put a dual-sided transparent trackpad on a Macbook Air, and you got yourself an ultimate travel device. Thin, light and, with only part of the OLED display beneath trackpad active, it can work for days, when needed, on one charge.

And in case you are wondering how far these drawings are from the real product, take a look at this picture:


The drawing on the right is the picture from the original iPhone patent, which was filed on March 03, 2006. The “Dual sided trackpad” patent was filed on Sept. 06 that same year.

So, while no promises here, and there are quite a few Apple’s patents that never became something more, we also might be in for some interesting surprises this sumer/fall.

You can download full patent application here (1.8MB *.pdf).

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • Google
  • daniii

    Once again has ripped off LG, this patent is nearly identical to the one filed by LG last year for a dual flip touch screen.

  • Staska

    If you mean this one:


    Then no. It’s a completely different idea

  • Bunk

    This is bunk! What’s the application number?

  • Staska

    What do you mean by “bunk”?

    If you mean that there’s no such patent application yet among the ones that are public on USPTO site, that’s true.

    But public USPTO patent search site is not the only place, where one gets his info, and I can assure you that this patent application is genuine.

  • Joe

    False report. This isn’t an Apple patent, period. You can’t assure anything. If you have proof, then show it. Otherwise your a dreamer and a liar.

  • Staska

    No need to be so categoric and angry, Joe. Let’s keep the discussion civil :)

    Do you think I went to all the trouble to falsify that 47 page report in patent legalese, just to get a few links and visitors?

    Eh… anyway, Apple blogs have already figured it out

  • http://www.blabbinit.com Blabbinit

    Well, no matter who has the patent, I think I would like to buy one. This seems awesome and has some many features and capabilities.

  • Wozik

    the tel number +3706 xx xxxxx – its mobile networks in Lithuania ;)

  • http://www.missingstudios.com Mattkidd

    Cool i hope its cheaper in the UK! Even tho i spent £270 on a iPod touch lol

  • Justin

    Danii, I think you missed the part where it says the dual sided trackpad patent was filed in 2006.

  • xxx

    well i would take it as a compliment if some1 said I made this up! Some people are naive and don’t think things through, LOL I would love to know what logic brought them to such a conclusion!

  • http://www.theidoctor.org theidoctor.org

    thats pretty cool!

  • Derric

    Roughly when ClamShellLip iPhone will be out?

  • Steve

    It will be ready to ship in 6 – 8 weeks

  • http://no error


  • Abby

    Too bad. Fakesteve says not. But it is a rather interesting idea, and it’ll probably happen eventually. Namaste.

  • http://www.jeppeb.nl/iphone jeppeb

    It may actually be true, the following is from com.apple.SystemPowerProfileDefaults.plist from the iPhone.

    Wake On Clamshell Open

    So… What to think about that?

  • DooDoo Head

    so have we determined when the nano iphone is coming out?….

  • http://www.shotguncity.co.uk/ Lucy

    Too bad

  • http://dsin.blogspot.com dsin

    I think your version of iphone is not new innovation and not easy to use.

  • james


  • Dude

    Never gonna happen

  • anelly

    i like it

  • Dtyd

    This isn't gonna happen, pretty unrealistic and stupid

  • Brittney

    I hope u make to iphone flip. I like the iphone and it would be great if it was a flip.

  • Pedro Pichete

    its dumb cause u take all the baeuty from the tactil screen it aint gonna happen at least this way

  • r.pandurangan

    it's great thinging

  • r.pandurangan

    it's great thing

  • bassot

    je souhaiterai avoir un iphone nano par la poste

  • Keegster

    that is pretty idiotic

  • Liam Sargent

    Bullshit. And that picture is not from the original iPhone patent, because it features software from the January 2008 software update. You, sir, are an idiot. This is stupid. I hate Internet rumors.

  • http://www.staska.net Staska

    Hey Liam,

    WTF are you talking about? And can you read at all? I never said that that
    first picture in the article is from the Apple patent app.

    In fact what I said, and you should have noticed if you read he article, is
    “The drawings above, *are Photoshop renderings*, *based on a device
    described in a recent Apple's patent application*, called “*Dual sided
    trackpad*”. I took the pictures from the original patent app (you can see
    some of the drawings in the article), and then made a PS rendering based on
    current iPhone design, and clearly stated so. What's so hard to understand
    about that?!!!

    Try not to appear an idiot yourself. Just try reading the article before
    commenting on it.

    And in case you were wondering, there is an Apple patent for such clamshell.
    Here's a link to it


  • Jordan

    how about nooo

  • pravin

    R u getting mad thier is no review on apple.com u r a stupid person don’t try to make fool bcas no one r the fool like u stupid I m apple lover I known everything about I phone that s why I m tell u r iodit

  • Mike

    I wonder programs like this will run on these babies.

  • mjhj

    Wow this looks horrible and beyond unrealistic, whoever came up with the design to this piece of crap has serious mental issues, when believing that Apple would ever get high enough to incorporate this ugly beast into such a sexy concept as the iphone 3.0, fuck whoever came up with this abomination… Period

  • che'lu

    lol its really pointless to have that clamshell open just to dial then close it and you get the normal iphone features…. um duhhh! That is why apple built all that bs right into the touch itself… so you do not have to open the darn thing to dial and speak.
    But it is posts like these that get people thinking and maybe come up with some other cool ass bs to build.


  • God

    Yes, every novelty is stupid. We have already all, iPod touch… All inventors are a** h***s.

    Go fish damned mindless troll.

  • http://www.livecrunch.com LiveCrunch

    You guys can also see the download torrent for iPhone 3.0 btw this is very nice review tho…


  • james

    LMFAO this will never ever be produced. In fact i don't think apple wants a flip phone, thats y its a touch screen i dont know why you wasted your time doing this lol no point

  • http://tinyurl.com/macgeekblog skr3dii

    Anyone who wants to try the iPhone OS 3.0 Beta firmware, you need to register your UDID here : http://tinyurl.com/macgeekblog

  • Devin

    Apple will never come out with a flip phone. That is just gay. The iPhone nano is already being made, and will be out around June/July of 09 (this year). Go to xskn.com. They already leaked skins on accident.

  • Haley

    They may do it.
    If they do, it will be an amazing feat.
    I'd love to see it done

  • dan

    what a piece

  • Alaoalepeofjcjrjeieie

    Wow a fucking moron posted this rumor.

  • Ryan

    leave it alone ! its already the best…

  • http://stopdreamingstartaction.ayosini.com/ Stop Dreaming Start Action

    This isn't gonna happen, pretty unrealistic and stupid

  • cool986
  • anangku
  • anangku