Apple has been working on folding iPhones for years

“The appearance of Galaxy Fold and Huawei’s Mate X has generated a lot of excitement around folding smartphones,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld. “Apple has been developing technologies that could be deployed inside a folding iPhone since at least 2014, when the first patents for such a device appeared in Europe. More Apple patents appeared in 2016 and 2017.”

Evans writes, “With a range of display manufacturers now capable of developing folding displays, Apple’s R&D teams will now be watching to see how well these things perform in the real world: Are they tough enough to live in your pocket? How easily do they break? How do people tend to make use of them once they have gotten over the initial appeal?”

“Perhaps Apple is paying more attention to folding smartphones than we thought,” Evans writes. “Or perhaps it thinks these devices are gimmicks that lack a real mission. Let the market decide.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If and when Apple debuts a foldable iPhone, they’ll be showing the world how it should be done and what to copy going forward. As usual.

As with fingerprint and facial recognition, when Apple debuts a foldable iPhone, then foldable smartphones will have been done right. — MacDailyNews, January 17, 2019

We’ll see a mess of weird attempts before Apple shows how it’s to be done, as usual.MacDailyNews, January 23, 2019

SEE ALSO:
Woz can’t wait to get a folding iPhone, is optimistic about Apple’s future – February 27, 2019
Huawei’s new foldable ‘Mate X’ smartphone starts at $2,600 – February 25, 2019
Concept design envisions what a foldable iPhone would look like – February 23, 2019
One of the main problems with Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is that it doesn’t really fold – February 22, 2019
Most analysts expect Apple to wait until 2020 to offer a foldable iPhone – February 21, 2019
Samsung announces foldable 4.6- to 7.3-inch ‘Galaxy Fold’ phone with giant off-center notch, starts at $1,980 – February 20, 2019
Xiaomi reveals dual-folding smartphone prototype (with video) – January 23, 2019
Samsung’s foldable Galaxy phone will cost ‘twice the price of a premium phone’ – January 18, 2019
Lenovo planning to resurrect Razr as a foldable $1,500 cellphone – January 17, 2019
Corning’s bendable Gorilla Glass glass could shape the foldable phones of the future – December 6, 2018
Can foldable phones help Samsung copy Apple? – November 7, 2018
Apple granted a second patent for a folding iPhone with flexible hinge – October 16, 2018
Apple gets 49 new U.S. patents including a foldable iPhone and an iPhone design invented by Steve Jobs – September 4, 2018
BoA Merrill Lynch: Apple is prepping a ‘foldable’ iPhone; U.S. and China trade tensions not an issue for Apple – March 23, 2018
Apple seeks patent for a foldable iPhone – November 28, 2017
Apple teams up with LG Display for foldable iPhone due to concerns over tech leaks to Samsung – October 11, 2017
Apple, LG Display discuss OLED display deal for 2019 – September 7, 2017
LG Display to supply OLED panels to Apple – July 31, 2017
Apple to invest $2.70 billion in LG Display’s OLED production – July 28, 2017
Apple and LG Display plan to derail Samsung’s OLED expansion plans – July 25, 2017
LG Display to invest $3.56 billion in flexible OLED plant – May 30, 2017
Apple patent details foldable iPhone – January 26, 2017
Apple granted U.S. patent for bendable or foldable iPhone using advanced carbon nanotube structures – November 1, 2016
Apple is granted another patent for new flexible handset design – November 22, 2016

12 Comments

  1. Really? After all this time we are going back to flip phones? I remember 2005 and the Razr. I guess everyone (read: millennials) failed to note that is what pre dated the iPhone. Your revolution looks like so much retread I don’t know whether to laugh hysterically or cry.

    1. Apple “will show the world how it’s done.” Don’t most Apple fans expect, hope and now, wish, Apple’s folding phone would follow the pattern of bettering tech?

      Not me. No longer do I expect. Now I wonder and wish it’d come true. Mr. Cook moves glacially and is product revisionarally challenged…say nothing of revolutionary. Inventions, or re-inventions aren’t top of mind for him. New income streams related to services/subscriptions is where he “invents”. Steve said Cook not a “product guy.” The statement is being meted out in real time.

      1. Did you view the video that ThesoloniusMac provided to MDN? It was long abut worth watching.
        It shows how Steve’s vision worked with tech and design staff to produce good produdcts. Cook does not have that vision. I don’t expect that anyone at Apple now has it, especially after he fired Forstall.

          1. I will be very interested to see how these phones are protected from every day wear and tear l had assumed they would fold to protect th screen rather than the opposite as we see now. How do you get a cover that works and doesn’t make using it effectively impractical I wonder. Surely these screens will be even less scratch resistant than traditional ones.

    2. So far, it still seems the phone and the tablet work best as separate optimized devices. Not sure where a foldable screen will be the best scenario?
      Just because everyone else jumps on that bandwagon,doesn’t mean Apple will. Remember those mini laptops? Apple never went there.

      1. Just because some companies offer a particular product, it doesn’t mean it’s going to sell well. Let’s see how many consumers run out and buy a folding smartphone this year. I’m willing to bet there will be very few takers.

      2. I think an iPad Pro that folds to the size of a mini is one of the best use cases. I’m not even talking “folding and keep using the screen”, I’m talking “fold it in half like a laptop when I’m done using it”.

        Foldable phones might be great with people with poor vision where it’s harder to read on a narrower device. But, if they are always take it out of their pocket and unfold, then, again, we have a use case that doesn’t call for an active folded screen. Samsung is basically this if you exclude the external screen.

        I can think of several “off when folded” uses, but that Huawei “outside” fold, I’m wondering what the “killer” use case would be for that… or is all this just practice for folded laptops? 🙂

    3. Ya OK, if you remember the Razr you will recall it had physical keys for dial-pad and a tiny crappy non-touch screen. A fold-able all-screen touch screen is 100% a different thing and if you don’t realize that you’re either being very sarcastic or really thick.
      Back then we wanted the screens and phones to be tiny as possible, until the iPhone came along and the screen needed to get bigger and bigger because now it was a pocket-sized computer acting as a phone, instead of being just a phone that can play music and take and display crappy quality photos.
      If it can be done right, an iPhone that unfolds to something the size on an iPad Mini (give or take) is a fantastic idea.

  2. What is so great about folding smartphones? Are they really something that most consumers need or desire? As far as Apple offering a folding smartphone, we know any folding iPhone is going to be quite costly. The tech-heads were unhappy over the cost of the recent iPhones and now they’re slobbering all over these $2000 folding devices. That makes no sense to me, at all. I really don’t think these high-end folding devices are going to sell to a world of consumers who have set a limit of paying $300-$500 for a smartphone. Even if Apple makes a folding smartphone, I’m not going to be buying one. The traditional slab smartphone is still very useful to me.

    I believe too many people are going overboard saying if Apple doesn’t offer a folding iPhone the company will be in deep trouble. Somehow these people think plenty of consumers will be rushing out to buy $2000 folding Android smartphones and that’s quite unlikely.

    1. I believe that Samsung is charging that $2000 price to cover a generally true cost of producing it. What if Apple introduces a flip phone with similar or better specs and then finds a way to undercut Samsung’s price? That would be a huge comeuppance to Samsung, a PR win, and a market win.

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