Citing individuals with “direct knowledge” of the project, the two iPhone prototypes reportedly fold widthwise like a clamshell. The devices are in early development and do not feature in the company’s mass production plans for 2024 or 2025, making 2026 the earliest possible launch time frame. The company has, however, approached at least one supplier in Asia for components related to two foldable iPhone models that come in different sizes. The report added that the foldable iPhones could still be canceled if they do not meet Apple’s standards.
Apple’s interest in offering a foldable iPhone is said to have fluctuated over the years. Apple CEO Tim Cook apparently first asked designers and engineers about a foldable iPhone as early as 2018. Later that year, he responded positively to a demonstration of a foldable iPhone with a 7-inch display. The company is reportedly concerned about technical challenges and offering sufficiently appealing features on the device that would justify its high price point compared to non-foldable devices.
Apple’s initial vision for the foldable iPhone imagined the display residing on the outside when the phone is shut, but engineers struggled to address durability problems with this design. The industrial design team also wanted the device to be no thicker than current iPhone models when closed, which became untenable due to limitations with battery and display technology.
The company paused its work on a foldable iPhone around 2020 and pivoted toward an inward folding iPad around the size of the iPad mini, featuring an 8-inch display. Apple purportedly concluded that the device could be thicker than a foldable iPhone since users would not expect to carry it in their pocket and it would not need to pass the high durability requirements of an iPhone. An foldable iPad would also enable Apple to publicly test the product category on a smaller scale.
Engineers are currently attempting to eliminate the crease that forms in the middle of the display due to repeated folding, as well as design a hinge that allows the display to lie totally flat, rather than possessing a small bump or dip in the middle, which could inhibit the Apple Pencil. The company is reportedly working with LG and Samsung on displays for the foldable iPad.
This article, “Apple Continuing Work on Folding iPhones, No Launch Until at Least 2026” first appeared on MacRumors.com
Discuss this article in our forums