Apple's folding iPhone - What to expect from the 'iPhone Fold'

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in iPhone
Apple is expected to announce an "iPhone Fold" with a flexible OLED display by 2024, and AppleInsider has created exclusive renders to show what it may look like.

The 'iPhone Fold'
The 'iPhone Fold'


Rumors and patents show that Apple has been working on a folding iPhone design for years. However, the technology required for such a device is still in its infancy, and it isn't clear what form the device may take.

Each year, more rumors arrive pushing the expected launch date of the "iPhone Fold" back further. In September 2021, well known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said it may not arrive until 2024.

Unlike Apple, Samsung has been developing its folding technology in public with the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Samsung Galaxy Flip. Apple is testing both form factors for its first foldable, but may be leaning towards the flip design.

Even as flagship Android devices pioneer folding technology, Apple is content biding its time while the technology matures. Devices being released to the public have encountered issues from poor software optimization to creased displays.

The 'iPhone Fold' design could borrow from the 'iPhone 14'
The 'iPhone Fold' design could borrow from the 'iPhone 14'


Patents show that Apple expects to overcome these issues with complex hinges and display technology. AppleInsider based our renders off of a few of these patents and the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

Since the "iPhone 14" may introduce a radical redesign in 2022, the renders of the "iPhone Fold" take on those new elements. Flat sides combined with a hole-punch selfie camera and flush rear camera module make up the basic elements of this device.

The display shouldn't show a crease when fully open
The display shouldn't show a crease when fully open


We expect Apple's foldable to open and close without a crease or seam in the display. Fully closed the thickness of the device should be only slightly thicker than current iPhones, while open it should be similar to the size of the iPad mini.

It isn't yet clear how Apple will optimize iOS or iPadOS for the folding device. Little may have to change if the display only works in a fully open position. There is a chance that Apple could allow a three-quarters open or half-open mode for gaming or chat apps as well.

iOS or iPadOS may be used for Apple's foldable
iOS or iPadOS may be used for Apple's foldable


Some folding Android devices have multiple positions for operation and even an external display for use when the main display is closed. However, it isn't clear if Apple will adopt these more complex form factors.

For Apple's first foldable, expect it to be an iPhone that can simply fold open and shut. Beyond that, Apple may not want to sour the experience with experimental features or hardware additions.

The "iPhone Fold" is rumored to launch sometime in 2023 or 2024. Stay tuned for more exclusive renders of future Apple products on AppleInsider.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,044member
    Ver Unlikely. It’s a gimmick and pron for damage but add zero or little benefit. Apple doesn’t design gimmicks based on Dieter Rams’ good design principles they followed.
    netroxjas99lkrupp12Strangersmac_dogwatto_cobrapscooter63JWSCkitatit
  • Reply 2 of 48
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,159member
    fallenjt said:
    Ver Unlikely. It’s a gimmick and pron for damage but add zero or little benefit. Apple doesn’t design gimmicks based on Dieter Rams’ good design principles they followed.
    I agree but look at MacBook Pro with HDMI and Magsafe, making the ugly MacBook back in style despite the fact that USB4 offers BOTH features. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 48
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 353member
    netrox said:
    fallenjt said:
    Ver Unlikely. It’s a gimmick and pron for damage but add zero or little benefit. Apple doesn’t design gimmicks based on Dieter Rams’ good design principles they followed.
    I agree but look at MacBook Pro with HDMI and Magsafe, making the ugly MacBook back in style despite the fact that USB4 offers BOTH features. 
    Umm... it's thicker at the edges NOT because of those ports but to maximize thermals and battery space. The 2013 MBP had thin edges and HDMI and MagSafe.

    And, personally, it's not ugly.
    edited January 3 williamlondonmike1muthuk_vanalingamuraharapatchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 48
    AppleishAppleish Posts: 454member
    Nope. Nope. Nope.
    watto_cobraJWSC
  • Reply 5 of 48
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,988member
    " AppleInsider has created exclusive renders to show what it may look like.”

    Coffee just sprayed out of my nose and all over my iPad keyboard. 
    williamlondonmac_dogSpitbath
  • Reply 6 of 48
    Watch. The moment this folding iPhone is out, Samsung will release ultra folding origami phone. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 48
    Wesley HilliardWesley Hilliard Posts: 57member, moderator, editor
    lkrupp said:
    " AppleInsider has created exclusive renders to show what it may look like.”

    Coffee just sprayed out of my nose and all over my iPad keyboard. 
    Should we not? lol. Better we have our own images than have some 14 year old sue us for using their Instagram post on our website.
    ioniclepatchythepiratewatto_cobrajbadams122bestkeptsecretbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 8 of 48
    longpathlongpath Posts: 381member
    I doubt this design will hold up as well, or enjoy the same water and dust resistance as current monolithic designs Indeed, I strongly suspect the hinge point will become a magnet for mold in humid climates.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 48
    tshapitshapi Posts: 351member
    I suspect folding phones are a fad. I suspect the next revolution is your iPhone connected with a pair of AR glasses that look just like regular glasses obviously with AR built in.  With Gesture control. 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobraBeats
  • Reply 10 of 48
    Hank2.0Hank2.0 Posts: 149member
    fallenjt said:
    Ver Unlikely. It’s a gimmick and pron for damage but add zero or little benefit...
    The benefit follows the principle of greater functionality with a smaller size for transporting. Isn't that the basic idea of a cell phone in the first place?
    muthuk_vanalingamavon b7watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 48
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,000member
    Hank2.0 said:
    fallenjt said:
    Ver Unlikely. It’s a gimmick and pron for damage but add zero or little benefit...
    The benefit follows the principle of greater functionality with a smaller size for transporting. Isn't that the basic idea of a cell phone in the first place?
    Works great in a computer render, but IRL it's a point of failure. iPhones are prized for their longevity. I suppose it's possible if they've "ironed out" crease issues...but the only thing I remember about the knockoff brands and their folding phones is the immense cost, and the reviewers writing about how crappy the hinged screens were and how they broke even in the review units.
    williamlondonpatchythepiratewatto_cobraJWSC
  • Reply 12 of 48
    Watch. The moment this folding iPhone is out, Samsung will release ultra folding origami phone. 
    Just FYI - Samsung has already launched 3 generations of folding phones. By time Apple comes out with their own version of folding phone (assuming late 2023 at the earliest), Samsung would be on 5th generation of foldable phones.
    williamlondonHank2.0
  • Reply 13 of 48
    Watch. The moment this folding iPhone is out, Samsung will release ultra folding origami phone. 
    Just FYI - Samsung has already launched 3 generations of folding phones. By time Apple comes out with their own version of folding phone (assuming late 2023 at the earliest), Samsung would be on 5th generation of foldable phones.
    Assuming there are still enough people buying them. I personally don’t see any additional functionality but I do see many new points of failure (including the look of it).
    Japheywatto_cobraBeats
  • Reply 14 of 48
    Watch. The moment this folding iPhone is out, Samsung will release ultra folding origami phone. 
    Just FYI - Samsung has already launched 3 generations of folding phones. By time Apple comes out with their own version of folding phone (assuming late 2023 at the earliest), Samsung would be on 5th generation of foldable phones.
    Assuming there are still enough people buying them. I personally don’t see any additional functionality but I do see many new points of failure (including the look of it).
    As you would expect, unit sales are pretty low. But that would change soon, as prices keep coming down. On the durability of the hinge design, recently launched Oppo's Find N seems to have the best solution so far. It can only get better from here, so this should not be an issue within 1 or 2 years (If not already).
    williamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 48
    Hank2.0 said:
    fallenjt said:
    Ver Unlikely. It’s a gimmick and pron for damage but add zero or little benefit...
    The benefit follows the principle of greater functionality with a smaller size for transporting. Isn't that the basic idea of a cell phone in the first place?
    It’s not “a smaller size” as you describe.  Folding just changes it’s shape.  Instead of a thin and wide device with a specific weight, it could fold into a thicker and less wide device with the same weight.  I fail to see how it’s smaller, it’s just reconfigured.  Instead of wallet bulge, this is going to be phone bulge with the thickness.

    To view the screen, id have to pull it out and now flip it open.  How many more gymnastics are you wanting one handers to go through to be able to use their phones… bigger screens are hard enough.  Not to mention the mechanical wear and tear on the bend and supporting structures that a static chassis does not have.  I’d also be curious about how dropping the phone would/could affect the hinge.

    If this comes to fruition, I guess I’ll be sticking with my 12 mini till it dies.  And if it does, maybe upgrade to a 13 mini if it’s still available?

    I wouldn’t mind a bigger screen, but not at the cost at my hands.  Maybe I’ll accept it when there are holographic projected screens.
    williamlondon12Strangerswatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 48
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,368member
    The first problem is that there's not a good argument for why they would make this. If Apple made things in response to unimaginative fan fiction, they'd have given in and would be losing money on the MacPad Pro by now. 

    Those folding iPhone renders above fail to respond to really simple questions like, how do you answer a phone call on one of those things? Do you have to open it up to see who's calling and then awkwardly hold a big square to the side of your head, or is there an additional screen on the one side of the device not shown in the render? If so, that's a really expensive option requiring a lot of additional hardware, plus OS bloat to operate two screens on one device. Also, there's not a good way to put a protective case on that thing, so if there's an additional outside screen, it will be scratched and broken with great regularity. Also älso, the corners of that square hinge will be digging holes into pockets, legs and faces.

    Again, what's the point of it? Wow! It the screen folds and unfolds... out into a display area not used for any particular function. Videos in every format will have to straddle the crease, unless they only use half the screen, a screen area you already have with a non-folding iPhone. The most common 16:9 video aspect ratio would only use half the screen, making it pointless, and the older 4:3 would even be letter-boxed, making the big, unfolding screen a natural for neither format.

    The original iPhone itself introduced a form factor that a lot of people didn't know they needed. They may not have realized they needed it, but the utility of the thing was obvious from the start. I'd certainly looked more than once at the cellphone and Palm Pilot I was carrying around and thought it would be better if the phone disappeared and became part of the PDA. Looking at the folding iPhone renderings above, there's just isn't an obvious or even vaguely apparent utility beyond novelty that will wear off after the first few days.
    williamlondonlandilevente12StrangersStrangeDayswatto_cobrabestkeptsecretpscooter63radarthekatJWSC
  • Reply 17 of 48
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,368member
    Watch. The moment this folding iPhone is out, Samsung will release ultra folding origami phone. 
    Just FYI - Samsung has already launched 3 generations of folding phones. By time Apple comes out with their own version of folding phone (assuming late 2023 at the earliest), Samsung would be on 5th generation of foldable phones.
    And yet, have you ever seen one in the wild? You might have, but I haven't, and they're certainly a rare novelty. Just as the underselling Microsoft Surface hasn't ended up proving how Apple really needs to make a 2-in-1 MacPad Pro, the Samsung folding phone isn't showing Apple how they've missed the boat on this one.
    williamlondonStrangeDayswatto_cobralibertyandfreeradarthekat
  • Reply 18 of 48
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,995member
    What to expect from the 'iPhone Fold' ?

    Nothing.  Don't expect one.
    12StrangersStrangeDayswatto_cobralkruppJWSC
  • Reply 19 of 48

    I might be alone, but i think it makes more sense to make a foldable iPad and leave the iPhone form factor alone. Its simplicity, durability, one handed use would only suffer not to mention weight etc. In a bigger device there would be more space for a folding mechanism, wouldn’t require an outer display for one handed closed operation, calls…

    My main problem is the durability of any plastic screen we’ve seen so far. Until it doesn’t come close to glass or they don’t implement their self healing display to negate the disadvantages i don’t see it happen in any shape or form. Even then it introduces more and new points of failure to any device whats famed for their longevity and durability. 

    edited January 3 watto_cobraradarthekat
  • Reply 20 of 48

    I might be alone, but i think it makes more sense to make a foldable iPad and leave the iPhone form factor alone. Its simplicity, durability, one handed use would only suffer not to mention weight etc. In a bigger device there would be more space for a folding mechanism, wouldn’t require an outer display for one handed closed operation, calls…

    My main problem is the durability of any plastic screen we’ve seen so far. Until it doesn’t come close to glass or they don’t implement their self healing display to negate the disadvantages i don’t see it happen in any shape or form. Even then it introduces more and new points of failure to any device whats famed for their longevity and durability. 

    My guts tell me that Apple is looking to do iPhone/Micro iPad. It's an iPhone but it can transform to Micro iPad. If anyone can pull this off elegantly, it's Apple.
    watto_cobra
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