Breaking News: Apple's Foldable Phone - iPhone Flip

(Image credit: #iOS Beta News/YouTube)

For years, there have been rumors about the iPhone Flip floating throughout the smartphone community. Unfortunately, we have yet to receive any indication as to when or if such a phone will actually make an appearance.

The rivalry for the greatest foldable phones is intensifying as many other firms enter the fray while Apple appears to be waiting it out. In addition to industry favorites like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Galaxy Z Fold 5, other respectable foldables that are now on the market include the Google Pixel Fold, Motorola Razr+, and OnePlus Open.

There's no concrete evidence to support the rumors that an iPhone Flip will launch in 2024, even if the fantastic iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro are already available for purchase and an iPhone 16 will follow later in the year. Indeed, according to recent sources, a foldable iPad is probably going to appear before a phone.

For the time being, nevertheless, this page enumerates every rumor we've heard on the iPhone Flip. We're crossing our fingers that more specific information will be added soon.

iPhone Flip release date rumors

Although a 2024 release seems doubtful based on the most recent reports, the iPhone Flip's launch date is still up in the air.

Not always has that been the case. Display researcher Ross Young, who has a reputation for providing correct suggestions, had speculated that a foldable iPhone may be released in 2024 after 2023 passed with no announcement of an iPhone Flip. A study by Ming-Chi Kuo, however, suggests that a foldable iPhone would not be released until 2025. Ben Wood, another expert, thinks we'll at least see a foldable iPad before then.

According to reports from Samsung Display in Korea, Apple's first foldable gadget may not be a phone and may not arrive until 2027. Furthermore, Apple may prioritize its update program for OLED displays on iPads and Macs, delaying the release of its first foldable devices even further. The timetable provided by Samsung Securities, on the other hand, suggests that the foldable iPhone would debut in 2026—a somewhat more bullish prediction than the company's display arm.

A recent article from The Information delves into Apple's efforts towards foldable technology, and akin to other outlets, it suggests that the company's primary focus might be developing a foldable iPad.More importantly, the article states that prototypes are not intended for mass production this year or next; rather, they are in the early phases of development.

Flip display on iPhone

According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the first foldable iPhone would have an enormous 8-inch display. That would be bigger than the 7.6-inch display that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 delivers when it is unfolded. Additionally, an 8-inch display would be almost as big as the 8.3-inch iPad mini.

According to a second source, Apple and LG may be collaborating on a 7.5-inch OLED foldable display panel.

Not only that, but a another rumor from Kuo claims that Apple is testing a 9-inch screen for a foldable device. That would be much larger than any current foldable phone available.

Additionally, Kuo stated that Apple is considering employing color e-ink screens for foldable devices' external displays. Although this type of screen wouldn't be as responsive as an LCD or OLED display, it would be excellent for minimizing battery usage.

Remarkably, a patent also implies that Apple could provide the iPhone Flip with some self-preservation capabilities in the unlikely event that it is dropped. The concept underlying the patent is that the Flip's hinge will begin to close in mid-drop, shifting the phone's balance and preventing the screen from hitting the ground and breaking.

What will the design of the iPhone Flip look like?

An iPhone Flip concept from ConceptsiPhone (Image credit: ConceptsiPhone)

Jon Prosser claims that Apple has tested two variants of the iPhone Flip: a hybrid tablet that folds like a book and is equivalent to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold series or the recently introduced Pixel Fold, and a flip phone that has a clamshell form similar to the Galaxy Z Flip line. These sources also state that Apple will move on with the clamshell design, but because development is still in its early stages, anything might yet change.

A few other things that Apple could be thinking about for its foldable are also revealed via patent filings, such as potential future devices that might forego the clamshell form in favor of something different.

(Image credit: USPTO)

We learned about an Apple patent from 2020 that described a "joint operating mode" that would enable a secondary display coupled by magnets to be added to a device with a single screen. This mode doesn't exactly relate to the notion of a single folding display, but theoretically it may allow separate devices to combine to form one shared environment. The Microsoft Surface Duo 2 is more like it than the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

(Image credit: USPTO)

Another patent, which was discovered by PatentlyApple, was submitted in the second quarter of 2018 and describes a device with a flexible display that folds closed but leaves a short strip visible at the bottom for convenient access to alerts and contextual information. Imagine it as a little version of the Touch Bar seen on the MacBook Pro M2 and previous MacBook models.

If we travel back farther than 2020, we may find Apple's previous thoughts on foldable devices, which include a patent for a tri-folding display. And if we go all the way back to 2016, MacRumors has one of the first patents for a foldable iPhone. It shows a vertically folding phone that resembles the Motorola Razr and Galaxy Z Flip 4.

Apple has been granted two patents that relate to foldable screens having flexible sections with texturing and robust folding displays. Although a phone isn't mentioned in those patents directly, Apple may potentially be considering a foldable tablet.

All of that sparks the creativity of designers who share concept representations of potential iPhone Flip/Fold designs. Consider this 3D design, which was shared by the #iOS beta news YouTube account. It resembles a Galaxy Z Flip in several ways, including its thin bezels, centrally located hole-punch camera cutout, sparse external display, and vertical orientation. We might see Apple deploying this design in practice, at least with further refinement beyond the first concept shown here.

iPhone Flip concept (Image credit: Technizo Concept/LetsGoDigital)

LetsGoDigital has created another concept design for the iPhone Flip that has a folding screen, a lower notch, and an external cover display.

A concept video for the iPhone Flip, which resembles an Appleized version of the Galaxy Z Flip, was released by ConceptsiPhone. It has a 120Hz display, an in-screen Touch ID sensor, and a narrower notch than the iPhone 14 (but it lacks Dynamic Island like the iPhone 15 series). Although it seems a bit unrealistic, the concept design of the phone includes an M1 chip. Since Apple now utilizes this silicon in the iPad Pro and iPad Air, it's possible that this chip may ultimately be used in a high-end phone instead of the more common A-series chips.

(Image credit: Antonio De Rosa)

Images of a foldable iPhone that retains certain characteristic features of the iPhone while offering features similar to the Galaxy Z Flip, such an exterior notification panel, were tweeted by designer Antonio De Rosa. Flat sides, a pro iPhone-like camera array, and the absence of a notch or Dynamic Island altogether are some of these features, which allude to Apple's purported future iPhone plans beyond 2022.

The concept for an iPhone Flip that 4RMD has created may be the most attractive (and realistic) yet. It has a 6.8-inch screen that is visible when the phone is open. Similar to the Galaxy Z Flip, alerts and other notifications are handled via an external display.

(Image credit: 4RMD)

Cupertino won't be able to go it alone when it comes to the first foldable iPhone from Apple. There have been conflicting reports for the past three years suggesting that Apple has been in discussions with LG and Samsung to provide the flexible screens for the gadget it eventually decides to launch. According to reports from Korean media (via MacRumors), Samsung Display delivered Apple panel samples for examination in March 2019.

But what if Apple had chosen to use a dual-panel design, like to the Surface Duo, rather than a flexible display for its first folding iPhone? Jon Prosser of Front Page Tech said that Cupertino has already prototyped a design that looks like that.Prosser claims that despite the addition of a hinge and the very smooth transition between the two independent screens when extended, the smartphone still has the rounded design of the iPhone 11 (recall that the iPhone 12 brought back flat edges to Apple's range).

(Image credit: USPTO)

If the folding iPhone's computer renderings and images aren't enough, check out this actual concept from Technology Aesthetics. A real-life "iPhone V" has been developed by the team there using components from Motorola Razrs and iPhones, but it has a lot of issues that highlight how difficult it is to make phones fold.

(Image credit: Technology Aesthetics/YouTube)

iPhone Flip: Sturdiness

In October 2020, a patent surfaced that hinted to the possibility of an improved ceramic cover for the iPhone, which would be included with the iPhone Flip. It would have four layers: a cover layer, a hardcoat layer, an inner surface, and a transparent support layer. It would be especially made for a flexible display. For added robustness, that support layer might potentially be composed of sapphire or glass.

Additionally, there has been conjecture that the display may "heal" itself because of a layer of "self-healing material" that would lessen the visibility of dents or scratches.

Naturally, there is no assurance that Apple would release a device of this kind, but Prosser's analysis serves as a reminder that there are several possible outcomes for the company's first foldable phone. Even though flexible screens are quite popular right now, dual-screen technology may prevail in the end if Apple isn't thrilled with the pricing, dependability, or quality of a device with a single, folding screen.

According to a February 2020 Apple patent, the foldable display could hypothetically bend in the center without putting undue strain on the surface. The screen would sort of bend out inside the hinge, forming a gentle curve rather than a sharp seam.It is hoped that this kind of architecture will help the display be more durable and last longer. It's important to note that the Galaxy Z Flip has a somewhat similar look to this one.

Since then, Apple has submitted a continuation patent that outlines strategies for enhancing the iPhone Flip's robustness through the use of a crack-resistant display.

What would the pricing of an iPhone Flip be?

This is the hardest issue to answer since, in addition to the fact that pricing has never been mentioned in the few foldable iPhone rumors that exist (yet another indication that the iPhone Flip will launch later rather than sooner), the cost of the smartphone will mostly depend on Apple's approach to design.

Remember that the Galaxy Fold, which retailed for $1,980 at launch, had a modest 4.6-inch panel on the exterior and an unfurled 7.3-inch tablet-like display. Six months later, for $600 less, the Galaxy Z Flip was produced, with a 6.7-inch screen that was more vertically oriented and encased in Ultra-Thin Glass for enhanced durability.With the most current Galaxy foldables, the Z Fold 4 costing $1,799 at launch and the Z Flip 4 just $999, the pricing differential has remained the same.

Should Apple decide to go with a more affordable and smaller foldable, the phone's cost could not be that far from high-end devices like the $1,199 iPhone 15 Pro Max. However, it's feasible that the foldable iPhone may cost more than Apple's more traditional smartphones—possibly even beyond the feared $2,000 mark—if it's meant to function as a phone that can transform into a tablet when necessary, similar to the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

iPhone Flip: Apps

We presume that a foldable iPhone would be powered by iOS, coming pre-installed with whichever version is most recent at the time of release. However, we also anticipate that Apple will modify the iPhone's software to optimize the folding body.

The ability of iOS to multitask is something we sincerely hope is rectified with the iPhone Flip. iOS makes switching between apps simple, but unlike Android phones or iPads, iOS does not let you to run apps side by side, which is a waste of a foldable iPhone's potential.

Is the iPhone Flip a rollable instead?

Apple could surprise everyone by releasing a rolling iPhone instead of a folding one. According to patents, Apple may be working on a rollable phone that can keep a portion of its display inside until you need it.

Apple has the capacity to launch a rollable device if it so chooses, but no other firm has been able to achieve so as of yet. Though it's entertaining to watch Apple looking into alternate possibilities for improving its phone, we still think it will go for a foldable iPhone instead of a rollable at first.

iPhone Flip: The rivalry

In the event that the iPhone Flip is not released this year or the following, Apple will undoubtedly give its competitors an even bigger advantage in the foldable phone market. The Galaxy Z Fold is currently on its sixth iteration from Samsung, and a new Galaxy Z Flip is also available.

The Pixel Fold entered the market in the summer of 2023 as a rival to the Galaxy Z Fold 5, which had a price tag of $1,799 as well. A 7.6-inch screen is displayed when the phone opens, and a Tensor G2 CPU powers it all. While there are many positive aspects of Google's first foldable device, the Pixel Fold is not without flaws, as our review reveals.

The OnePlus Open, which debuted in 2023 and defeated the Galaxy Z Fold 5 in our matchup, was OnePlus's attempt to take the market. With the Motorola Razr+, the company at last produced a compelling flip phone, and the Motorola Razr (2023) brought foldables down to a more affordable $699.

In summary, while rumors of an iPhone Flip have only simmered, a lot has happened in the world of foldable phones. However, Apple shouldn't be deterred by this, since it has seldom been the first to launch with its revolutionary goods. Apple usually waits to release products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad until it believes it has solved the issues with previous models. With the iPhone Flip, you could see the firm adopt a similar strategy.

iPhone Flip perspective

Though there is still a lot we don't know about Apple's intentions for a foldable iPhone, one thing is certain: The company's approach to creating the first foldable phone will probably determine how the market develops.

Even though Samsung's Galaxy Fold was the first foldable phone on the market, the firm is still experimenting with other form factors in an effort to determine what consumers actually want in a phone.

Apple has a history of bringing about significant changes in the mobile market with each release: the notch, the removal of bezels, and the abandonment of the headphone jack were all trends that were sparked by iPhones. In addition, even though 5G smartphones are more widely available than ever, the majority of people's first exposure to 5G was probably with 2020's iPhone 12. In the end, a lot will depend on how Apple handles the dream of a foldable iPhone for the smartphone industry as a whole.

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