- Apple has been actively building prototypes of foldable iPhones for the past five years, with two different form factors resembling the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Galaxy Z Fold 5.
- Apple initially explored the idea of a foldable iPhone with an external display in 2018, but decided not to pursue it due to display and technology limitations. They then shifted towards developing a foldable iPad around the size of the iPad mini.
- Apple is working on eliminating the crease in the middle of the display for a seamless folding experience and is collaborating with Samsung and LG to meet their standards.
The first Samsung Galaxy Fold was the first foldable to become mainstream, and ever since then, the foldable market has been steadily growing, innovating, and improving to the point where they are now more widely available and affordable. While the new foldables are still imperfect, one key company is missing from the front, and that’s Apple.
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Apple has been rumored to be exploring the idea foldables for several years, and a new report from The Information (via MacRumors) claims that the company has been actively building prototypes of two foldable iPhones in the past five years.
The report cites two sources with “direct knowledge” of the project, and there are reportedly two iPhone prototypes: the standard clamshell, such as the Galaxy Z Flip 5, and the fold, similar to the Galaxy Z Fold 5. Apple is said to be developing and researching these devices and form factors, and the earliest possible launch for either of these appears to be sometime in 2026.
The report also claims that Apple explored the idea of a foldable iPhone all the way back in 2018, but it decided not to pursue the project as the display, battery, and other technologies did not meet Apple’s straight and high standards. Surprisingly, Apple’s initial foldable had a display on the outside, similar to the HUAWEI Mate Xs – which is even more surprising, as the design was always more fragile, and made little sense for the general user.
The report cites that Apple paused working on the foldable iPhone around 2020 and moved towards making a foldable iPad, around the size of the iPad mini, featuring an 8-inch display. The device was thicker and likely heavier, which could’ve made it easier to carry around, since tablets were already of a usual size, and it made more sense to turn it foldable than a smartphone. The same high-level durability wouldn’t have been required, since the tablet wouldn’t have been used as often as a smartphone, hence giving the tablet idea even more promise.
As things stand, Apple is said to be working on a way to eliminate the crease from the middle of the display, where the panel closes. The company wants the panel to lay flat fully, without any bumps or dips in the middle that could affect the use of the Apple Pencil. The company is said to be working with Samsung and LG to develop and modify displays to meet Apple’s needs and standards.
Apple has a lot of work to do if it wants to enter the foldable market
Source: Pocketnow / Jaime Rivera
The news means that Apple is simply exploring the idea of bringing a foldable iPhone or iPad to the market, and the project could be canceled at any moment. Most companies explore various ideas, some of which are sometimes wild, futuristic, or outright immature. That said, exploring these unique form factors, designs, and technologies help companies gain more knowledge and experience with new materials and components, allowing them to fine-tune and perfect technologies. Whatever happens to the currently developed foldable at Apple, the company will gain more knowledge and experience that could make their way into future products.
Additionally, let’s take a closer look at the current situation of iOS and iPadOS. We’ll see that the operating systems still lack a lot of functionality that could make them more user-friendly for foldables. Samsung, OnePlus, and HONOR have done a great job optimizing the software of their devices. However, Apple has still not provided a true multitasking experience for the iPhone, and the iPad still lacks key features that could make it a no-brainer PC replacement.
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