UPDATED 20:56 EST / FEBRUARY 07 2024


Report: Apple is trying to meet the challenge of developing two foldable iPhones

While much of the buzz around Apple Inc.’s products is currently focused on the new mixed reality Vision Pro headset, according to reports today Apple has been quietly tinkering away with concepts for two foldable iPhones.

According to The Information, two of the more exciting things happening inside Apple’s research lab are clamshell-style foldable iPhone prototypes, each folding horizontally, similar to Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s Galaxy Z Flip devices. Apple had apparently been trying to develop flip phones with displays on the outside, but its engineers “struggled” to make something that wasn’t vulnerable to breakage.

The report explained that Apple’s team has tinkered with foldable devices that won’t be any fatter than any of the current iPhones out there, but this has also been challenging given battery size and display components. The company has apparently been in touch with at least one Asia-based manufacturer about getting the parts for these evidently hard-to-build phones.

It’s believed if Apple does manage to develop working prototypes that meet its high standards, the phones will likely hit the high street in 2026 – seven years after Samsung’s folding phones went to market.

The difficulty of making such products is evident in the price. Samsung’s Flip 5 goes for about $1,000, and its Fold 5 is closer to $1,800 in the U.S., a bridge too far for many consumers. It seems such devices are popular, though, at least according to the technology market research firm, Counterpoint, which projects global foldable smartphone shipments to go from 18.6 million units in 2023 to 57 million in 2025 to 101.5 million in 2027. Apple and Samsung are expected to dominate the market.

If the future is foldable, the current growth is largely a result of the popularity of foldable devices in China. Apple is also working on a folding tablet that’s reportedly a similar size to the iPad Mini with an eight-inch display. This, too, has been a challenge for the company’s engineers. Current speculation says the folding iPad won’t be out until 2026 or 2027.

Photo: Laurenz Heymann/Unsplash

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