Samsung introduced its fourth generation of foldable phones at its yearly Unpacked August event. A new Galaxy Z Flip 4 clamshell phone with a screen that splits in half to fit in your pocket is also available. And last, there is the Galaxy Z Fold 4, a tablet that can be folded down to resemble a standard phone in size. With an emphasis on “approximately.” There are other manufacturers of phones with foldable screens than Samsung.
Additionally, there is the Motorola Razr. Additionally, outside of the US, Huawei and Xiaomi both offer foldable phones. Consequently, we are left wondering where Apple’s foldable iPhone is.
One method Apple could create an iPhone Flip is by fusing an iPhone and an iPad. Even though it’s still just a rumor, more people are starting to anticipate a foldable Apple phone in the future. However, don’t hold your breath for one any time soon.
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iPhone Fold Rumors
Apple “has begun early work on an iPhone with a foldable screen, a potential rival to comparable devices from Samsung,” Mark Gurman reported for Bloomberg in January 2021.
Additionally, according to MacRumors, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that “Apple will probably unveil a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD Plus flexible OLED display in 2023” in May of 2021. In a tweet from April of last year, he updated his prediction, speculating that it would take until 2025 before Apple releases a product with a foldable screen. It’s also important to note that because Kuo posted the tweet on April 1, it might have been an April Fool’s hoax.
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When it comes to Apple speculations, Gurman and Kuo both have a strong track record. Therefore, if these rumors are true, a foldable iPhone will be available in 2025. It will fold in half and be around the size of an iPad Mini. The story comes to a close. But wait.
iPhone Flip display
According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the first foldable iPhone would sport a massive 8-inch display. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a 7.6-inch display when it is opened, so that would be smaller than that. Additionally, an 8-inch display would be almost as big as an 8.3-inch iPad mini.
According to a second source, Apple may be collaborating with LG to create a 7.5-inch OLED foldable display panel.
According to a different rumor from Kuo, Apple is testing a foldable with a 9-inch display. That would dwarf any foldable phone now available.
Another claim made by Kuo is that Apple is considering employing color e-ink panels for foldables’ external displays. Although it wouldn’t be as responsive as an LCD or OLED panel, this type of screen would be fantastic for minimizing battery usage.
What will the design of the iPhone Flip look like?
According to Jon Prosser, Apple has tested two separate models of the iPhone Flip: a fold-out hybrid tablet that is comparable to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold lineup, and a clamshell flip phone design that is comparable to the Galaxy Z Flip line. Although it is still early in the development process and there is a potential that things could change, those sources also believe that Apple will move forward with the clamshell design.
Patent applications also shed light on some of the potential features that Apple may be exploring for its foldable, such as any potential replacements for clamshell designs in future products.
Another Apple patent for a “joint working mode” that would enable a single-screen device to be supplemented by a secondary display attached magnetically came to our attention in 2020. This mode, which doesn’t directly relate to the idea of a single folding display, would theoretically allow separate devices to combine to form one shared space. Samsung Galaxy Fold is less prevalent than Microsoft Surface Duo 2.
Another patent, first submitted in the second quarter of 2018, was later discovered by PatentlyApple(opens in new tab) and shows a device with a flexible display that can fold closed while still leaving a tiny strip at the bottom accessible for quick access to notifications and contextual information. Consider it to be a tiny version of the Touch Bar seen on the MacBook Pro.
We can see previous Apple ideas about foldable designs, including a patent for a tri-folding display if we look back further than 2020. And if we go back even further, to 2016, we can see one of the earliest foldable iPhone patents, thanks to MacRumors(opens in new tab), which shows a vertically-folding phone with an orientation similar to the Motorola Razr and Galaxy Z Flip 3.
More recently, Apple was awarded two patents that cover both a folding screen with textured flexible portions and durable foldable screens. Since a phone isn’t particularly mentioned in the patents, Apple may potentially be considering a foldable tablet.
Designers who upload concept renderings of potential designs for the iPhone Flip/Fold are fed by all of this. Consider this 3D mockup, which was shared on YouTube by the #iOS beta news(opens in new tab) account. It is similar to the Galaxy Z Flip in terms of its vertical orientation, thin bezels, and hole-punch camera cutout that is positioned in the center. We could see Apple launching this design, at least with more refinement than the basic concept seen here.
Another iPhone Flip prototype by LetsGoDigital includes a folding screen, a lower notch, and an external cover display.
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A video of an iPhone Flip concept(opens in new tab) from ConceptsiPhone has also been released, and it resembles the Galaxy Z Flip 3 in many ways. Compared to the iPhone 12, it has a reduced notch, a 120Hz screen, and an in-screen Touch ID sensor. It also has an M1 chip, which may seem fanciful, but given that Apple is already using its M1 silicon in the iPad Pro and iPad Air, perhaps we will soon see it in high-end phones as well instead of the standard A-series CPU.
Another design, by Antonio De Rosa, tweeted photographs of a foldable iPhone that has certain features of the Galaxy Z Flip, like an exterior notification screen, but also has some features that are uniquely iPhone. These include flat corners, a camera array-like to that on the iPhone 13 Pro, and — as a hint to Apple’s alleged iPhone 14 intentions — a lack of a notch.
Cupertino won’t be able to do it all by itself when Apple’s first foldable iPhone materializes. We’ve heard conflicting stories over the past three years that Apple has been in contact with both LG and Samsung to provide flexible panels for whatever product it ultimately decides to launch. According to Korean media in March 2019, Samsung Display submitted Apple panel samples for analysis (via MacRumors(opens in new tab)).
But what if Apple chose a dual-panel design similar to the Surface Duo rather than a flexible display for its first folding iPhone? Jon Prosser of Front Page Tech believes Cupertino may have created a prototype of such a design, raising the potential. The two distinct screens combine quite neatly when held out in front of the user, according to Prosser, even though this device has a hinge and keeps the rounded design of the iPhone 11 (remember, the iPhone 12 brought flat edges back to Apple’s range).
The durability of the iPhone Flip
An updated version of the ceramic shield from the iPhone 12 may be included with the iPhone Flip, according to a patent we reviewed in October 2020. It would have four layers, including a cover layer, a hard coat layer, an inner surface, and a transparent support layer, and be created specifically for a flexible display. For added strength, the support layer might even be constructed of sapphire or glass.
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There have also been rumors that the display might “repair” itself because of a layer of “self-healing material” that would lessen the visibility of dents and scratches.
Of course, there is no assurance that Apple would release such a device, but Prosser’s research serves as a reminder of the several possible outcomes for the company’s first foldable phone. Even though flexible panels are currently all the rage, dual-screen hardware may ultimately prevail if Apple isn’t impressed with the dependability, pricing, or longevity of a product with a single, folding screen.
According to a patent filed by Apple in February 2020, the foldable display might bend in the middle without putting too much strain on the surface. The screen would sort of bend out inside the hinge, making more of a soft curve than a sharp crease. It is hoped that a design like this will increase the display’s resilience and lengthen its lifespan. It’s important to note that the Galaxy Z Flip features a somewhat similar design.
With the aid of a crack-resistant display, Apple has since filed a continuation patent that describes how to make the iPhone Flip more robust.
How much would an iPhone Flip cost?
The hardest question to answer is this one because neither price nor the few foldable iPhone rumors that exist have ever mentioned it. This indicates that the iPhone Flip will arrive later than expected and that much will rely on how Apple approaches the design.
Think about the Galaxy Fold, which debuted at $1,980 and had a tiny 4.6-inch panel on the outside and an unfurled 7.3-inch tablet-like display. Six months later, for $600 less, the Galaxy Z Flip was released with a 6.7-inch screen that was more vertically proportioned and encased in Ultra-Thin Glass for improved durability. The most recent Galaxy foldable keeps the same price disparity, with the Z Fold 3 starting at $1,799 and the Z Flip 3 at just $999.
The price of the phone might not be significantly higher than that of high-end phones like the $1,099 iPhone 13 Pro Max if Apple chooses a smaller and less expensive foldable. It’s probable that the price of the folding iPhone will be higher than that of Apple’s more traditional smartphones, though, if it is designed to double as a tablet when necessary, similar to the Galaxy Z Fold 3.