In brief: Apple's next iPhone is roughly two months away and is expected to be more of the same in terms of overall design, but that doesn't mean the company isn't considering alternative form factors for future handsets.

As other leading smartphone makers are perfecting devices with vertically or horizontally folding screens, recently published patent information suggests Cupertino might take a different route. A patent for "electronic devices with rollable displays" filed last October and published on July 13 references a device with a display that could be moved between an unrolled state where it is planar and a rolled state for storage.

The display could have a protective layer containing glass that would be "locally thinned" in the rollable portion to facilitate movement. The patent notes the layer of glass could be used to prevent the panel from deforming and becoming damaged when a user's finger, a stylus, or other external object comes in contact with it.

Perfecting flexible display durability is one of the final hurdles for manufacturers to overcome on the road to mainstream adoption (another is price). Even the latest and greatest foldables still come up short in this department as highlighted in a recent video from Jerry Rig Everything on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

In that video, the phone's flexible display started exhibiting scratches at a level two on the Mohs hardness scale. Handsets with traditional cover glass, like those coated in Gorilla Glass Victus, normally start showing scratches at level six with deeper grooves at level seven. Even something as innocent as a fingernail can scratch at level two.

Related reading: Lenovo's rollable laptop is stuck in the concept phase

It is worth mentioning that a patent application is not direct evidence that a product with such features is inbound. Time and again, we have seen patents filed for products and features that never make it to market. Often, companies will secure patents simply to keep the competition from releasing something based on an idea they originally had.