With manufacturers including Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, LG, Lenovo and Motorola all revealing plans to sell foldable phones in the near future, will there ever be a foldable iPhone?
It looks likely – although Apple probably won’t get there as soon as those other smartphone companies. Apple has filed for patents relating to foldable devices, and has apparently already secured provision of the bendy displays, but the company isn’t expected to unveil a folding iPhone until 2020 or maybe 2021, if at all.
In this article we look at when and if Apple will launch a foldable iPhone, and whether it should jump on that bandwagon or just focus on other features that people want. For more general predictions about Apple’s phone plans, read our roundup of iPhone 2019 rumours, and take a look at Best iPhone deals for buying advice related to the current range.
Why should Apple make a foldable iPhone?
One reason why a foldable iPhone could be a good thing is perfectly illustrated by this concept illustration made by Dutch industrial designer Roy Gilsing on behalf of Foldable Phone News.
Those images perfectly illustrate how an iPhone could be unfolded to become, in effect, an iPad. Of course, the question is whether anyone would really want an iPhone that could transition into an iPad.
Would such a device encourage more people to purchase an iPhone? Or would the price be prohibitive? Would those of us who own both an iPhone and iPad prefer if they were combined into the one device? Would the device cannibalise iPad sales? We’re not completely sold on the idea.
In many ways the foldable screen strikes us as a technology looking for a practical application and we’re not sure this is it.
But that hasn’t stopped Apple’s competition from jumping on the foldable phones bandwagon. Samsung and Lenovo demoed phones with foldable screens as early as spring 2018 and now Samsung says its phone will be ready for sale in April 2019. Our colleagues at Tech Advisor have written about the Samsung Fold, which will cost a staggering $1,980.
Evidence for a foldable iPhone
Whether a foldable iPhone is a good or a bad idea, there’s no escaping the fact that Apple has at least considered it – as shown by the evidence gathered in this section.
The foldable iPhone rumour isn’t new. It’s been ongoing since 2016 when it emerged that Apple had, apparently, placed an order with LG for its folding OLEDs.
Citing anonymous industry sources, a The Bell report, via The Investor, claimed in October 2017 that LG was working on a foldable iPhone with Apple. According to that report, foldable iPhone production was expected to start in 2019.
An ET News report in December 2016 seemed to back this up. Apparently, LG was going to start mass-producing the screens in 2018 and would be supplying them to Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
Another report on 2 March claims that Samsung Display is in negotiations with Apple with a view to supplying the company with foldable display to be used for an iPad/Phone hybrid (via Apple Insider).
Samsung is said to have provided 7.2-inch displays to Apple. The company already provides the OLEDs used for the iPhone XS and XS Max. Credit: macworld.co.uk