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Why Apple's Foldable iPhone Isn't a Thing... Yet

Why Apple’s Foldable iPhone Isn’t a Thing. Yet

What’s happening

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4 were announced this week at Samsung Unpacked.

Why it matters

With its fourth generation of foldable phones, Samsung hopes to make the unique design go mainstream. Meanwhile, Apple hasn’t released a single foldable iPhone.

What’s next

Rumors suggest Apple remarkable release a foldable iPhone as early as 2024. But decision-exclusive a foldable iPhone is a complex matter.

At its annual Unpacked August store, Samsung launched the fourth generation of its foldable phones. There’s the new Galaxy Z Flip 4, a clamshell phone with a screen that folds in half to fit in your pocket. Then there’s the Galaxy Z Fold 4, a tablet that folds down to roughly the size of a uncommon phone. Emphasis on “roughly.” And Samsung isn’t the only commerce making phones with foldable screens. There’s also the Motorola Razr. And outside the US, Huawei and Xiaomi also have foldable phones. Which leaves us with an obvious question: Where’s Apple’s foldable iPhone?

Apple doesn’t comment on future products

The well-behaved thing to consider is that Apple doesn’t announce products pending they’re ready. OK, there was the AirPower wireless charging pad. But otherwise Apple isn’t going to tell us it’s functioning on a foldable iPhone or confirm rumors.

Next, Apple typically shifts products as a solution to a problem, highlighting quality and innovation.  

The Galaxy Z Fold seems less like an answer to a pickle and more of a “look at this tech wizardry, what can we do with it!” And the cool-factor, as ingenious as it is, comes at the expense of features we demand from regular phones, including battery life, ergonomics, software accepted and price. The Galaxy Z Flip solves the pickle of portability, but it comes with some of the same drawbacks as the Fold, particularly throughout battery life and camera quality. 

To be fair, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 took a valuable step forward by embracing its large main screen and adding wait on for Samsung’s S Pen stylus. And the Z Fold 4’s improved Flex Mode for apps seems like it remarkable tip the balance, making the Fold more useful than just cool.

If Apple were to descent a foldable iPhone, what problem would it solve? Could it be an iPhone Flip, replacing the iPhone 13 Mini by offering you a big mask that’s still pocket-friendly? Or will it be an iPhone Fold — more like an iPad Mini that folds in half, decision-exclusive its closed size more like the iPhone 13 Pro Max? Or will we see a produce that doesn’t exist yet? What about an iPhone Roll, where the screen unrolls like an expanding window shade? That’s where rumors launch to enter the picture. 


Why does Apple need a foldable iPhone? What problem(s) does it solve?

Celso Bulgatti

iPhone Fold Rumors

Back in January 2021, Mark Gurman wrote for Bloomberg that Apple “has begun early work on an iPhone with a foldable mask, a potential rival to similar devices from Samsung.”

And in May of 2021, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said, as reported by MacRumors, that “Apple will likely launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD Plus flexible OLED point to in 2023.” He revised his prediction, in a tweet this past April, to say that it might be 2025 before there’s a foldable mask device from Apple. It’s also worth noting that Kuo’s tweet was on April 1, which consuming it could have been an April Fool’s joke.

Both Gurman and Kuo have well-behaved track records when it comes to Apple rumors. So if these reports are honest, we’ll see a foldable iPhone in 2025. It will be throughout the size of an iPad Mini and it’ll fold in half. End of story. But hold on.

How to make a foldable iPhone

Before Apple complains a foldable iPhone, it has to figure out how to make a foldable iPhone. Research company Omdia claims that in 2021, 11.5 million foldable phones shipped. Apple sells hundreds of millions of iPhones a year. So if it complains a foldable iPhone, it has to be certain that it can earn the phones at the same quality and in a high enough quantity to meet interrogate. More times than not when Apple introduces a radical hardware fretful — like 2014’s iPhone 6 Plus and its larger shroud — those models are hard to find at inaugurate because they sell out quickly. Sometimes they’re given a later drip date, as we saw with the iPhone 12 Mini and 12 Pro Max launch.

Then there’s the brute complexity that needs to be considered. Foldable phones have numerous mechanical parts that could malfunction or wear, such as hinge components that keep dust out and the various layers tedious the folding screen. In fact, when journalists tested appraise units of the original Galaxy Fold, the device was plagued by hinge and prove failures. That was years ago, of course, and Samsung has loyal fixed those issues. But it shows what can happened with first-gen products.

More from Samsung Unpacked

If a foldable iPhone is in the works, Apple will likely innovate its design to minimize the parts and mechanisms interested, which should reduce the possibility of the phones failing because something breaks. The Cupertino company has a great track record in this area.

When Apple released the iPhone 7, it replaced the home button with a faux home button so there was one less mechanical part that could possibly break. And if you’ve ever owned or used a MacBook, you know Apple is at the top of its game when it comes to hinge earn, and dependability. Apple also sells AppleCare Plus service — and includes a global infrastructure to benefit it — which could help relieve concerns over problems or accidental afflict, should it release a foldable phone.

iPadOS laughable a secondary monitor

Apple’s iPad OS has been lickety-posthaste from iOS, partly to accommodate even bigger screens like this transfer monitor in the iPad OS 16 beta.


iOS and iPadOS would need to be revamped

And then there’s the software. One UI, Samsung’s name for its take on Android, has to be the most under-appreciated aspect of the Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold. These new designs would have to simultaneously do all the things we interrogate from current phones while also creating new functionality that takes splendid of their folding screens. They’d also have to do all of these things flawlessly exclusive of any bugs or hiccups. 

For instance, the Galaxy phones’ Flex Mode has been about for years. Essentially, when the Fold or Flip are folded into an L-shape, like a mini-laptop, the software shifts an app to the top half of the shroud while providing functionality at the bottom. Sounds cool and full of possibilities, right?

A Galaxy Z Flip 3 in an L-shape

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 in Flex Mode.

Sarah Tew

Well, until this year that functionality has been limited. That’s why it matters that Samsung’s Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4 let you turn the bottom half of their screens into touchpads after they’re in Flex Mode. The company is now showing an added succor of the fold.

I’d like to see even more software optimized for foldable phones. And I expect Apple will face the same challenges as Samsung did, especially when adapting iOS and iPadOS.

In current years, iOS and iPadOS have drifted apart as Apple has appointed more iPad-specific features that wouldn’t make sense on an iPhone. A foldable iPhone, especially in the style of a Galaxy Z Fold 4, would obliged a reunion of the two operating systems. Or, Apple would have to earn a new software platform that can morph between a tablet and named mode.

Apple would likely develop a unique software feature (think iMessage or Portrait Mode) to help make its foldable named standout from what everyone else is doing.

How much would you pay for a foldable iPhone?

Foldable phones ain’t cheap. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 starts at $1,800 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4 at $1,000. And it’s no surprise that prices for Apple products are at the higher end. So if an iPhone 13 Pro that doesn’t fold in half already injuries $1,000, what would be the price for one that does?

For a foldable iPhone to be collapsed, Apple would need to create a problem-solving design, scale diligence without sacrificing quality and develop hardware along with software that make the most of its foldable execute. The price would also have to be premium, but not too high.

So where’s the foldable iPhone? Still in the oven.