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    Foldable iPhone/iPad: what we know so far.

    Is Apple planning to make a foldable iPhone 2023? In a words, Yes.

    Foldable smartphones appear to be the future of smartphones. Manufacturers such as Motorola, Samsung, and Huawei have all released smartphones featuring foldable screens, with more on the way each year.

    It’s easy to understand the appeal in the concept – you could use a conventional iPhone display when out and about, and then ‘unfold’ the iPhone to expand the screen size to that of an iPad Mini – a similar concept to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

    Alternatively, Apple might follow in the footsteps of the Motorola Razr and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, reducing the size of the smartphone display while not in use. Or they may go the other way and make it even bigger, with a full-size iPad display that folds down to be a smaller tablet – as many publications currently suggest would be the company’s first folding device.

    There have been several rumors over the years, some dating back to 2016, claiming that Apple was actively hunting for a flexible OLED manufacturer to make panels for a foldable iPhone, and a 2019 story said that Apple had moved on to the testing stage.

    Multiple patents have also been submitted over the years, and hit-or-miss leaker Jon Prosser has even revealed a few insights on what to expect from the foldable iPhone, implying that something is in the works at Apple – more on that later.

    Aside from rumors, there are a few difficulties with foldable devices in general right now, including pricing, durability, and quality. Apple is most certainly working on these challenges behind closed doors, and it’s reasonable to believe that the foldable iPhone won’t be mentioned until it’s nearly flawless.

    That might suggest the device is still a few years away, but let’s be honest: it’ll be worth the wait, won’t it? And by then, the concept of a folding iPhone might not seem so far-fetched…

    When will Apple release a foldable iPhone?

    The earliest rumors of a foldable iPhone surfaced in 2018, with Bank of America analyst Merrill Lynch suggesting that Apple was planning to produce a foldable phone in 2020, however this never materialized. So, when can we expect to see a foldable iPhone?

    A September 2020 Weibo leak stated Apple had ordered foldable display prototypes from Samsung, however later rumors indicate Apple has since broken ties with Samsung and is currently working on the prototype display with LG.

    When it comes to exact dates, leaker Jon Prosser’s inside source states that Apple will not release the foldable iPhone until at least 2023, but since then, insiders have largely agreed that Apple’s foldable hardware will not be released until at least 2024.

    Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo initially predicted the gadget would appear in 2023, but amended his projections in a September 2021 note, now indicating that the foldable iPhone won’t be available until the second half of 2024. He reaffirmed his 2024 prognosis as recently as January 2023, indicating that he is still confident in it.

    Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicted in 2021 that the foldable iPhone would not be available for another 2-3 years, which corresponds to Kuo’s projection.

    Display expert Ross Young, who has an unblemished track record when it comes to display-related leaks at the time of writing, has also entered the fray. The analyst also stated that the foldable will not be available until 2023 “at the earliest,” with a more likely release date of 2024, but in a late-February 2022 article, Young claims that Apple’s foldable ambitions have been pushed back even further, this time to 2025.

    If you can’t wait too long, take a look at what we consider to be the best iPhone right now.

    Could Apple’s first foldable actually be an iPad?

    While most rumors initially focused on a foldable iPhone, sources have begun to point to Apple dabbling in the foldable market with a foldable iPad sometime in 2024.

    CSS Insight’s annual forecasts report, written by the company’s chief of research Ben Wood, sparked the rumor. According to the article, Apple would want to experiment with a folding iPad first to prevent any complications with a folding phone, however he did not give any insight into what this folding iPad may look like.

    Wood goes on to say that a foldable iPhone might jeopardize traditional iPhone sales, and that Apple would need to price the foldable iPhone at least $2,500 more than the top-end iPhone Pro Max model.

    Ming-Chi Kuo followed up his forecast in January 2023, claiming on Twitter that a “all-new design foldable iPad” will be released in 2024. The only information he provided was that Anjie Technology will produce a carbon fiber kickstand for the tablet that will be lighter and more robust than present choices.

    How much will the Apple foldable cost?

    That’s a difficult issue to answer, not just because we don’t know much about what the foldable iPhone will provide or whether it will be an iPad, but also because we don’t know when the foldable iPhone will be introduced.

    Foldable smartphones are now expensive, with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 costing £1,599/$1,799 and Huawei’s Mate X2 costing roughly £1,985/$2,785, but like with any technology, prices will ultimately fall.

    We also have no idea what Apple may be preparing. There are several patents indicating that several prototypes are being developed, and the design and features on offer will primarily reflect the price tag. It might be one of the ‘cheaper’ foldables, such as the £949/$999 Galaxy Z Flip 4, or one of the more expensive foldables.

    It’s hard to say at this moment, but it’ll almost certainly be a high-end product with a high price tag to match.

    What will the foldable iPhone or iPad look like?

    While many people believe that Apple will follow in the footsteps of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold and Huawei Mate series, developing a foldable iPhone that folds down the center like a book, recent rumors suggest otherwise.

    With common concerns about durability, the visible crease in folding screens, and overall finish quality, one of Apple’s prototypes could actually make more sense.

    Foldable iPhone 2023 future

    Jon Prosser stated in a series of tweets in June 2020 that the foldable iPhone may not be made up of a single flexible display. Instead, the leaker claims that one ‘foldable’ iPhone prototype is made up of two distinct displays joined by a central hinge, similar to the Microsoft Surface Duo 2.

    With all of the concerns about the durability and expense of flexible display technology, that may be a wise choice.

    However, according to a Bloomberg story from early 2021, Apple has produced a prototype folding display with an invisible hinge, similar to the foldables from Samsung and others, a step away from the two-display concept mentioned by Prosser in 2020.

    This was reaffirmed in a February 2021 article from Prosser, who appears to have changed his mind about Apple’s dual-display strategy, now saying that Apple is interested in developing something similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip clamshell design factor.

    The leaker didn’t go into much more information, other than to say that Apple is contemplating “fun colors” for the foldable iPhone, presumably similar to the colorful iPhone 12 range, but it’s likely far too early for Apple to make final judgments on color schemes.

    EqualOcean, a Canadian financial research firm, predicts that Apple is working on a single-display foldable, but one that would resemble the iPad mini when unfurled. According to the business, Apple will release a foldable iPhone with a screen size of between 7.3 and 7.6in when unfurled, as well as compatibility for the Apple Pencil, similar to how the latest Galaxy Z Fold phones support Samsung’s S Pen.

    In his May 2021 projection, rival analyst Ming-Chi Kuo mentions a perhaps slightly bigger 8in unfurled display. In fact, Kuo goes a step farther than merely citing size, stating it’ll have an 8in QHD+ flexible OLED display, and claims that it’ll employ TPK’s silver nanowire touch solution used in the HomePod Mini “because of its significant benefits over SDC’s Y-Octa technology”.

    Kuo believes that the latter might provide Apple with a “long term competitive edge” in the foldable market since it is the “better” option for future devices with multiple folds, rollable form factors, and more.

    Whatever the eventual form factor, industry insiders say LG is working with Apple on a prototype display for the foldable, but it’s unclear if it’ll be made by LG or in-house by Apple.

    Interestingly, in a May 2022 tweet, Kuo indicates that Apple is evaluating supplier E Ink’s Electronic Paper Display, commonly known as EDP, for a “future foldable device’s cover screen & tablet-like uses”.

    Kuo suggests that E Ink’s color EPD “has the potential to become a popular solution for foldable smartphones,” particularly the cover/second screen, due to its power-saving capabilities.

    Patents

    Less than a day later, an Apple patent uncovered by Patently Apple backed up Jon Prosser’s wild claims of a dual-screen iPhone. The patent outlines a device made up of two independent panels joined by a fabric hinge mechanism.

    However, this is not the first patent to depict a folding iPhone. A separate invention for a “flexible display device” was submitted in 2018, after patents filed in 2016, 2014, and 2011. There’s also a second 2016 patent that details “an electronic device, comprising: a housing that bends around a bend axis; and a display in the housing that bends about the bend axis”.

    There’s also a 2018 patent that describes a tri-folding foldable smartphone that folds in multiple ways, unlike current foldables. According to the patent filing, the double folding screen may be twisted backwards or folded inward from either end, allowing the user to utilize the foldable in any way they see fit.

    It might also enable Apple to create a smartphone-sized foldable that unfolds to the size of an iPad, and it sounds eerily similar to the future tablets shown in Westworld. That’s an intriguing idea.

    Not to mention the patent Apple filed explaining a way to avoid harming screens when they are twisted. The patent for “Electronic Devices With Flexible Displays” implies that damage is possible under freezing situations, and proposes this plausible alternative – “the section of the display that overlaps the bend axis may be self-heated by glowing pixels”.

    Foldable iPhone 2023 design

    Another Patently Apple discovery demonstrates a novel concept in which the crease does not run down the center of the display but leaves a portion exposed when the device is folded, which is thought to serve as a secondary display or sort for notifications and the like, similar to the external screen on the Galaxy Z Flip.

    Apple has also filed patents describing methods to avoid creasing foldable displays. One such patent details a method that allows the display to bow rather than fold to alleviate stress on the panel, which is similar to the technology seen in the Galaxy Z Flip and Motorola Razr.

    A patent issued in July 2021 titled “Electronic devices having changeable display windows” describes an extensible display that can cover the camera unit (and potentially other Face ID components) while not in use. While it isn’t intended for a foldable iPhone, the notion of an expanded display is similar to what Android competitors are employing to overcome the crease on most existing foldables.

    The most recent patent adds to our understanding of what to expect from the foldable. The patent, titled “Electronic devices with fiber composite friction hinges,” shows us a hinge that is thin without sacrificing strength.

    While the technology might theoretically be used to laptops, the patent expressly specifies folding displays. “The electronic device may comprise a flexible layer such as a flexible display that overlaps the hinge structure,” according to the patent description.

    Of course, it’s worth noting that Apple, like other tech firms, files patents on a regular basis, and although this isn’t always predictive of what we’ll see on a next iPhone or iPad, it does give us a fair indication of the paths Apple is contemplating.

    Renders and concepts

    Of all, a futuristic product would be incomplete without an equally bizarre notion or two to spice things up. Here are a few of our favorites from the web:

    YouTube video

    LetsGoDigital provided this render, which shows a design similar to the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip.

    Foldable iPhone 2023

    And this one, via Foldable Phone News’ Roy Gilsing, shows something similar to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold.

    Foldable iPhone 2023

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