First iPhone with foldable display could launch in 2020, says analyst

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 23
Apple could launch an iPhone with a foldable display in the next few years, according to a Bank of America analyst, predicting the first iPhone or similar Apple-produced device featuring the long-rumored -- and already patented by Apple -- display technology could launch as soon as the year 2020.




In a note to investors, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Wamsi Mohan writes Apple is "working on a foldable phone," reports CNBC. Based on his meetings with several Apple suppliers in Asia, the analyst advises the device in question could possibly be unveiled in two years time.

Mohan also suggests the foldable nature of the smartphone could give it another major selling point, as the possibility of folding a larger screen to a smartphone size means it "potentially double up as a tablet." In theory, such a device would give the benefit of a large-screened device like an iPad or iPad mini, but the portability of a smartphone.

The suggested timing for the device's launch lines up with another report from October last year, with the claim LG has formed a "task force" to make a foldable OLED panel and a "rigid flexible printed circuit board" for a future iPhone model. That report also claimed production of the panel could start in 2020.

Other smartphone producers have toyed around the concept of giving user the option of a larger screen, in a variety of different ways. Previous releases have typically involved the use of two separate displays and a hinge mechanism to fold the divided screen in half, like ZTE's Axon M, but this technique means the screen cannot be used as one cohesive display due to the noticeable gap in the middle.

Major display producer LG has worked on the problem over the last few years, and has previously been rumored to collaborate with Apple on the concept. Samsung, another display supplier and rival smartphone producer, has teased its own concept smartphones using flexible technology in the past, but it is unknown if Apple is working with the firm to use the technology in any way.

Apple has also filed for patents in the folding device field, including the "Flexible display devices" patent granted in 2016 that used a flexible OLED display with a hinged main body. Another application made in October for "Electronic Devices with Displays" depicts another version where a flexible section in the middle of the smartphone allowed the entire body to bend without seams or a visible hinge.

In the same note, analyst Mohan suggests the lineup of iPhones expected this fall "to be largely unchanged for the OLED versions although size changes have proved to be a catalyst in the past."

Recent rumors and reports indicate there to be three iPhones on the way, including two OLED-based versions with 5.9-inch and 6.5-inch screens, and a 6.1-inch model equipped with an LCD display panel. It is thought the larger OLED model could have lower specifications overall, with engineering samples allegedly using "lower-level specifications or lower capacities" than the LCD-based model, including reduced memory.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    larryalarrya Posts: 489member
    I won't be happy until I get one of the tri-fold PDAs from Westworld.  

    And a sex robot.  

    And this thermos.  That's all I need.  
    mike1SpamSandwichlkruppmac_128fastasleepStrangeDays
  • Reply 2 of 18
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,400member
    You can make 5-10 degree bendable/flexible phone but foldable phone requires all hard components/battery inside and frame foldable which is not possible in near future and certainly not 2020.. But, nothing wrong to entertain science fiction ideas.
  • Reply 3 of 18
    mavemufcmavemufc Posts: 289member
    Hope not.
  • Reply 4 of 18
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,645member
    wood1208 said:
    You can make 5-10 degree bendable/flexible phone but foldable phone requires all hard components/battery inside and frame foldable which is not possible in near future and certainly not 2020.. But, nothing wrong to entertain science fiction ideas.
    That's not necessarily true. It's not inconceivable that internal components would be divided appropriately on both halves of the foldable device. Nobody thinks that a battery or chips themselves would need to bend.
    radarthekat
  • Reply 5 of 18
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,205member
    Anything that folds will exhibit uneven wear. I don’t see this ever happening, except at Samsung. Maybe this is a disinformation scheme by Apple designed to make the Samsung copycats throw away millions on a stupid product design.
    fotoformat
  • Reply 6 of 18
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,979member
    larrya said:
    I won't be happy until I get one of the tri-fold PDAs from Westworld.  

    And a sex robot.  

    And this thermos.  That's all I need.  
    Oh I’m picking out a thermos... for you
  • Reply 7 of 18
    lkrupp said:
    larrya said:
    I won't be happy until I get one of the tri-fold PDAs from Westworld.  

    And a sex robot.  

    And this thermos.  That's all I need.  
    Oh I’m picking out a thermos... for you
    I would really recommend taking the paddle ball too.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 8 of 18
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,272member
    larrya said:
    I won't be happy until I get one of the tri-fold PDAs from Westworld.  

    And a sex robot.  

    And this thermos.  That's all I need.  
    I'm on board with that!
  • Reply 9 of 18
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,272member

    Anything that folds will exhibit uneven wear. I don’t see this ever happening, except at Samsung. Maybe this is a disinformation scheme by Apple designed to make the Samsung copycats throw away millions on a stupid product design.
    That was my exact first thought!
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 10 of 18
    irelandireland Posts: 17,122member
    Why would I want a foldable display? Not some theoretical why; real world why.
  • Reply 11 of 18
    bushman4bushman4 Posts: 790member
    foldable display more than 2 years away unfortunately.   Analysts  prediction is not backed up
    by any substantial facts or source
    while we all know this is coming.  Not even Apple knows when
  • Reply 12 of 18
    Foldable screen makes sense when I want to read comic book for example. iPhone is too small to read comic book format and iPad is just too big to carry around. If my iPhone X can be unfolded onto twice the size, then it would be much easier on the eyes when reading comic book or showing photos or graph to the people around me with bigger screen. You can also watch movie on a bigger screen and carrying only iPhone, no iPad needed.
    mac_128
  • Reply 13 of 18
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,020member
    ireland said:
    Why would I want a foldable display? Not some theoretical why; real world why.
    It's stunning to me that someone on a tech blog doesn't see the advantages of being able to fold a larger screen down to a much more portable format. Given the choice between carrying a "phablet" around ... and carrying something a third the size without sacrificing any of the current interface, most if not all are going to prefer to carry the smaller device.
  • Reply 14 of 18
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,658member
    mac_128 said:
    ireland said:
    Why would I want a foldable display? Not some theoretical why; real world why.
    It's stunning to me that someone on a tech blog doesn't see the advantages of being able to fold a larger screen down to a much more portable format. Given the choice between carrying a "phablet" around ... and carrying something a third the size without sacrificing any of the current interface, most if not all are going to prefer to carry the smaller device.
    having something fold able is only usefull if the "fold" doesn't eventually break. Physics tells you that there is no such material that exist that will give you that unless the folding curve is pretty large (and so what's the point). So, the alternative would be two separate screens that when you open then up are abutted to each other. Panel - hinge -- Panel, but when open the hinge part moves down under one of the panel (or the panel overlaps). There would be a very small transition area in between, a 2-3mm.

    edited March 23
  • Reply 15 of 18
    larryalarrya Posts: 489member
    lkrupp said:
    larrya said:
    I won't be happy until I get one of the tri-fold PDAs from Westworld.  

    And a sex robot.  

    And this thermos.  That's all I need.  
    Oh I’m picking out a thermos... for you
    Please, no ordinary thermoses. Extra best only. 😀
  • Reply 16 of 18
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,272member
    Foldable screen makes sense when I want to read comic book for example. iPhone is too small to read comic book format and iPad is just too big to carry around. If my iPhone X can be unfolded onto twice the size, then it would be much easier on the eyes when reading comic book or showing photos or graph to the people around me with bigger screen. You can also watch movie on a bigger screen and carrying only iPhone, no iPad needed.
    I don't disagree but on the other hand Apple could be up to something better and misdirecting Google, Samsung and gatorguy
    StrangeDaysmac_128
  • Reply 17 of 18
    ireland said:
    Why would I want a foldable display? Not some theoretical why; real world why.
    Came here to write same thing. 

    Perhsps it is so we can have larger displays in a small easy to tote package. 
  • Reply 18 of 18
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,020member
    MacPro said:
    Foldable screen makes sense when I want to read comic book for example. iPhone is too small to read comic book format and iPad is just too big to carry around. If my iPhone X can be unfolded onto twice the size, then it would be much easier on the eyes when reading comic book or showing photos or graph to the people around me with bigger screen. You can also watch movie on a bigger screen and carrying only iPhone, no iPad needed.
    I don't disagree but on the other hand Apple could be up to something better and misdirecting Google, Samsung and gatorguy
    Except, unless we are display engineer specialists, I'd argue we don't really know the extent of the technologies involved in this area. Moreover, while I wouldn't disagree that foldable phones will have different advantages and disadvantages over current phone designs, and this is literally true of every technology, even if a foldable phone did wear out sooner than my iPhone X, it really doesn't matter as long as it survives 2-3 years the average customer goes between upgrading devices.
    ireland said:
    Why would I want a foldable display? Not some theoretical why; real world why.
    Came here to write same thing. 

    Perhsps it is so we can have larger displays in a small easy to tote package. 
    And we have a winner. 

    Personally I think Apple is moving toward putting the brains of the current iPhone into the Apple Watch, such that it can be used with any display anywhere, possibly eliminating the need for carrying a display around for most people. Secondarily, rather than a ridged display, one that's flexible which can be more easily stored on the body and pulled out, unfolded or unrolled as needed, thereby reducing the amount of flexing considerably.

    The other part of this, is that with Apple offering phones with glass panels on both sides, then a folded phone could still provide access to many features of the phone without ever unfolding it, and thereby reducing physical wear even further.
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