iPhone Flip – will we ever get a foldable iPhone?

Will we ever get a folding phone from Apple?

An iPhone phone and a speech bubble on a pink background.

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Flip phones have been having a huge renaissance, with stylish foldable smartphones getting launched by the likes of Samsung, Google, and Motorola. However, there’s a notable gap here: we’re yet to see the iPhone Flip hit the tech industry, despite about four years of fierce competition across the market, and Samsung releasing its fifth generation of foldables. More than just a novelty, these devices still boast impressive hardware and camera specs, as well as quirky features offered by no other phones. So, when can we expect to get the first foldable iPhone?

Well, who’s to say that there isn’t work going on behind closed doors? While this year’s main focus has been the iPhone 15, rumors and speculations have circulated about the possibility of an iPhone flip or iPhone Fold prototype for a long while now. So, while fans of the foldable design patiently wait for a flip phone with Apple iOS, we’re exploring some of the existing rumors surrounding Apple’s plans for a foldable iPhone.

Apple’s interest in foldable technology

To make it clear, Apple has not made any official statements regarding its plans for foldable technology. However, there are several indications that the company might be actively exploring this market. For one, back in 2020, Apple was granted a patent for technology that could possibly be used to avoid issues of a folding display cracking and creasing over time. This patent was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under the heading “System with multiple electronic devices,” and noted by the rumors website MacRumors at the time. While not all patents translate into commercial products, they provide insights into Apple’s research and development efforts, and suggest that Apple might be experimenting with different form factors, such as a hidden hinge mechanism alongside a flexible display.

Possible design concepts for a foldable iPhone

The exact design of a foldable iPhone is still unknown, but there have been hints and rumors that shed some light on the possibilities. Ming-Chi Kuo, a reputable analyst, suggests that Apple is testing various display sizes for a foldable iPhone, including a 9-inch display that could fold in half, like a Galaxy Z Fold or a Pixel Fold. However, it’s important to note that this size might be branded as an iPad rather than an iPhone; or perhaps, even a hybrid device that is situated somewhere between the two.

There are also rumors of Apple potentially collaborating with LG to test a smaller 7.5-inch OLED panel. While these sizes are larger than the displays found in some existing foldable phones, it obviously doesn’t exclude the possibility of Apple exploring other sizes. The company has filed patents for both book-like folding designs, similar to the Samsung Galaxy Flip series, and dual-screen designs resembling the Microsoft Surface Duo. These patents indicate that Apple is experimenting with multiple form factors for its foldable device.

Furthermore, Apple has even explored unconventional designs that deviate from existing foldable phone concepts. One such design includes a phone that folds in half but leaves a small portion of the display exposed for notifications and other information. While this approach may compromise the durability of the display, it showcases Apple’s willingness to think outside the box and explore unique possibilities for a foldable iPhone.

✓ Marla’s thoughts

Is a ‘fold’ or a ‘flip’ the way to go?

There are currently two options out there in terms of foldable phones, the ‘fold’ or ‘flip’ design. Being targeted for slightly different markets, it comes down to personal preference as to which one will better suit your style. The ‘fold’ phones might be more suited for tablet enthusiasts after a more powerful device, while the clamshell form similar to the phones that were popular in the 90s might be better for those after a unique and pocket-sized device.

iPhone Flip release date speculations

Speculation about the release date of an iPhone flip or foldable device has varied over time. Earlier predictions suggested a possible launch in 2023, but recent reports indicate that the timeline may be pushed back. Analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo now suggest that a foldable or flippable iPhone is more likely to be released in 2025.

Apple’s cautious approach to adopting new technology is well-known. The company often waits for the market to mature and the technology to become more reliable before making its move. This strategy allows Apple to ensure that the investment in a new product category is worthwhile and aligned with its brand standards. Additionally, Apple tends to focus on product categories that show long-term staying power, rather than jumping on short-lived fads. So, we might even be seeing the iPhone 16 before we get any official word concerning a folding phone.

Considering Apple’s cautious approach and the current state of foldable technology, it is possible that the company may initially release a foldable iPad before venturing into the realm of a foldable iPhone. A foldable iPad would provide a larger screen for experimentation and potentially offer a more secure design to protect the foldable mechanism. Companies like Asus and Lenovo have already explored foldable laptops, demonstrating the market potential for these larger-screen devices.

Will we get a foldable iPad?

Multiple reports and rumors suggest that perhaps a foldable iPad may be on the horizon. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, mentioned earlier, has reported that Apple is working on an iPad Mini with a foldable display and a carbon fiber kickstand, which could potentially be released in 2024. There have also been rumors of Apple experimenting with foldable display sizes as large as 20 inches, with The Elec previously claiming an OLED screen that’s 15.3″ when folded and 20.25 when unfolded could potentially be in the works.

Final thoughts

While Apple has not made any official announcements regarding a foldable iPhone, there are clear indications that the company might finally be exploring this technology. Through patent filings and rumors, we can discern that Apple is considering various form factors and design concepts for a foldable device.

However, the release date for an iPhone flip or foldable remains uncertain, with analysts predicting a launch around 2025 as Apple revises and streamlines its product, undoubtedly focusing on the creation of a next-gen foldable device that will blow the competition out of the water. Will we get a folding hybrid tablet similar to the design language of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold series, or a traditional flip-style phone more akin to the refreshed Motorola Razr? Only time will tell if we’ll ever get the foldable iPhone that we’ve been waiting for.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.