Apple begins early work on a foldable iPhone

While planning only minor “S year” changes for the 2021 iPhone line, Apple has begun early work on an iPhone with a foldable screen, Bloomberg News reports, citing “a person familiar with the work.”

Foldable iPhone concept
Foldable iPhone concept

In late December, Taiwan’s Economic Daily News reported that two of Apple’s foldable iPhone prototypes had passed the company’s durability tests.

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg:

The Cupertino, California-based company has developed prototype foldable screens for internal testing, but hasn’t solidified plans to actually launch a foldable iPhone. The development work hasn’t expanded beyond a display, meaning Apple doesn’t yet have full handset prototypes in its labs, according to a person familiar with the work, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.

Apple has internally discussed a number of foldable screen sizes, including one that unfolds to a similar size as the 6.7-inch display on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Current foldable phones have screens that are from 6 and 8 inches unfolded.

Apple isn’t planning major changes for this year’s iPhone line given the enhancements made to the smartphone in 2020, including 5G and new designs, according to people familiar with the situation. Inside Apple, engineers consider the next iPhones another “S” version of the device, the nomenclature typically given to new iPhones with minor upgrades… Though overall changes will be minor, Apple is still testing a key upgrade for 2021: an in-screen fingerprint reader. This would add a new method for users to unlock their iPhone, going beyond a passcode and Face ID facial recognition.

MacDailyNews Take: There’s no reason to change what’s very close to perfection, at least when it comes to our iPhone 12 Pro Max units, but call them “iPhone 13,” market them with a “lucky” twist, and you’ll sell millions more than if it were saddled with an “S” (translation: no big deal) nomenclature.

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

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.MacDailyNews, February 27, 2019

11 Comments

  1. What would be more useful than a foldable iPhone is a foldable iPad, With 2 folds along perpendicular axes the iPad could be folded to the size of a pack of cards and so be able to fit into my pocket.

    1. I agree, this looks great. If the display can roll in and out it would be the awesome. Lots of engineering challenges. I imagine getting the weight distribution right might be tricky.

  2. The headline for this story seems somewhat off the mark. Apple – for many years now – has been evaluating designs for folding (and perhaps rolling) screens. That they’re just beginning early work seems an obtuse suggestion.

  3. I have delisted Apple as a supplier of any of my computer needs (though I love their products) until they stop violating my Terms of Acceptance. Their “violations” have become very egregious and more frequent in the past two weeks, so for each week the violations continue, I will extend the delist of Apple purchases an additional 60 days. I won’t tolerate a company that violates my Terms of Acceptance.

  4. I think Apple will move away from numbered versions. There’s a new family of iPhones each year and everyone knows it. They can be identified by year. iPad moved away from having number suffix a few years ago. They’re now just called iPad, iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro.

    Folding iPhones? I hope not, but if Apple releases one, it will be as an additional model. Apple is not making the flagship iPhone model go to a folding design.

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