There is a lot of evidence suggesting the “iPhone Fold” exists, though Apple may never release it. This concept device would use hinges and a foldable OLED display to give users a large screen in a small footprint.
Apple’s Exploration of Foldable Devices
- Apple is testing multiple foldable devices
- Unique hinge design and different folding configurations are possible
- Expected to have an 8-inch display
- Speculated release by 2023
- Pricing could exceed $1500 based on market
The Emergence of iPhone Fold
The “iPhone Fold” exists only in patents and internal testing, but Apple could soon push for a consumer product release. Rumors have been scarce, so information about the product comes primarily from patents.
Evidence shows Apple is considering folding technology. While Apple is rarely the first to new technology, it is known to investigate it via testing and patents.
Potential Features of the iPhone Fold
The folding iPhone will still, first and foremost, be an iPhone running iOS. Expect feature parity with whatever flagship device it launches alongside, maybe the iPhone 15. It is likely that if Apple releases the “iPhone Fold,” not much else will differentiate the product besides the folding gimmick.
One disadvantage of a folding device is its thickness. No matter how thin the device is when open, it will double its thickness when closed. This could lead to issues when trying to fit it in your pocket or bag.
Apple has trended towards thinner devices over time, but it doesn’t always. The iPhone 13 is notably thicker than the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 14 is just as thick, but a folding device may be thinner than any iPhone when opened.
Folding devices also have moving parts like hinges. This will lead to wear and tear as the device is opened and closed over time. Apple has a long history of working on hinge technology, from MacBook lids that open with a single finger to the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro that holds the device aloft without fail. Whatever hinge system Apple devises for the “iPhone Fold,” it will likely be an innovation for the market.
Future iPhones will likely see little change in display technology. The current generation of iPhones uses OLED displays, which already have flexible properties and could make their way into a foldable iPhone.
A folding device can be built in several form factors. It can be a clamshell device that flips open into a phone-like device, or it can be a phone-like device that opens into a tablet. Rumors indicate that Apple has already begun testing these two folding types, comparable to the Samsung Galaxy Fold (horizontal fold) and the Samsung Galaxy Flip (vertical fold).
Cameras and Biometrics
Apple tends to put multiple cameras in its most premium devices, and the trend will likely continue for the “iPhone Fold.” A foldable will have a camera on the “front,” which acts as the rear camera when open. Apple will have an interesting decision to make when building the folding iPhone, like where to place Face ID.
A folding device complicates how a user will interact with it regularly. Authentication should be able to occur regardless of how the device is currently positioned. The best way to solve this is a Touch ID sensor on the external casing like what is used on the iPad Air 4.
Processor and MagSafe
Apple uses A-series processors for its iPhone line, so the most obvious choice for the “iPhone Fold” would be the A16 or A17, depending on when it releases. M-series processors are also a possibility to ensure maximum performance.
Apple introduced the MagSafe accessory and charging system with the iPhone 12 lineup. It is currently used to attach wireless chargers or accessories such as cases magnetically but could be altered to transfer data in the future.
iPhone Fold Patents
Apple files patents for anything and everything it experiments with internally. The earliest patents for a folding iPhone date back to 2016, showing Apple has been long-interested in the technology.
Patents range from flexible displays to various hinge designs and unique form factors for the device.
Industry Problems and Lessons Learned
As with most new tech, Apple isn’t anywhere near the first to attempt foldable devices. Samsung has spent a few years working through the initial problems associated with such products in the public eye.
The original Samsung Galaxy Fold encountered numerous issues, but subsequent iterations like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 have addressed many of the early problems.
Speculations on the iPhone Fold’s Release
Apple is currently prototyping different device form factors and display types, which could take several months or years before a final design is chosen. There is speculation that the “iPhone Fold” could be announced in 2023 or later, but specific details remain uncertain.
If Apple can overcome all the foldable phone technology issues, it could release a foldable in 2024 at the earliest. However, pricing could be a significant factor, and the “iPhone Fold” may have a hefty price tag of $1500 or more.
Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is based on rumors and patents and may not reflect the final product or decisions made by Apple.