How Apple could approach a folding iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone
With Samsung on the cusp of releasing another generation of foldable smartphones, questions are popping up about if it is too late for Apple to be a big mover with a foldable iPhone. Here's how Apple might approach it.

Mockup of a folding iPhone
Mockup of a folding iPhone


Despite Apple choosing to thus far not compete in the folding smartphone market, other manufacturers see it as the future. LG showed off its initial foldable display tech back in 2016 with some of the early models making it to market by 2019.

Competition continues to mount

Since then, many other foldable smartphones have debuted. The Motorola RAZR, Oppo Find N, and Microsoft Surface Duo are all eye-catching devices.

Samsung is also widely expected to announce the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4 at its 2022 Unpacked event on August 10. While Apple hasn't released its first device, Samsung is now on its fourth generation.

Apple has spent more than a decade refining the iPhone. This refinement can be easily mistaken as the device becoming stale. These folding devices are becoming more tempting for those who want something new and exciting.




Evidence of a folding iPhone "Fold" grows

Apple has unsurprisingly been mum on the matter, but just as with all of Apple's other devices, it won't stop a litany of rumors from making their way across the internet.

Rumors say Apple would be turning to LG and Samsung to provide the new panels for the foldable phone. Samsung delivered early samples to Apple of its components as far back as 2020.

Multiple analysts have thrown out their predictions that paint a picture of Apple deeply in the throws of development. For example, we've heard multiple rumors about the display itself. Some have posited we'll see an eight-inch display, others say it's closer to 7.5-inches and Ming Chi-Kuo has even suggested as high as nine inches.

There's also what form the folding iPhone will take, whether it will "fold" or "flip" if you will. As it stands, a flipping phone seems more probable.

There would need to be fairly minimal changes to iOS to support a flip-style phone as it would have a single screen in roughly the same aspect ratio as iPhones are today.

Foldable smartphone patent from Apple
Foldable smartphone patent from Apple


We've also seen patents from Apple itself that have shown off various design elements of a flip iPhone including a peek-able notification screen and a robust hinge design.

It's clear Apple is still working on how to make the foldable iPhone stand out before it brings it to market.

Apple's tried-and-true strategies

Apple has a bit of a pattern with new devices and device categories. It doesn't rush to market, but rather spends years behind closed doors until it can deliver a product that is better than what is currently available.

There's plenty of evidence of this in Apple's existing products. The iPod wasn't the first portable media player to make to market, just as Apple Watch wasn't the first smartwatch, AirPods weren't the first wireless earbuds, and iPhone wasn't the first smartphone.

Other products existed but Apple came up with something unique before finally releasing it to make it successful. It would make sense for Apple to employ the same tactics with a foldable iPhone.

If we look more macro at Apple's iPhone lineup by itself, we notice another common strategy by Apple. Apple will release a product before iterating on it slightly over time as it looks to perfect it.

At the same time, it will look to grow the SKU selection to increase the average selling price (ASP).

On iPhone, it started with just a single device. It slowly grew to include plus-sized phones, before jumping to the premium iPhone X and eventually adding the "pro" series. Each is upping the ASP of an iPhone.

Some foldable phones cost nearly $2,000 and would be an easy premium offering to expand its iPhone lineup further.

Will it be too late?

As we said, Apple doesn't need to be the first to market -- it just needs something better than is currently out there. Many of the first foldable devices were plagued by reliability issues which is all the more reason Apple should play it safe by waiting until the tech has fully matured.

Current timelines point to a foldable iPhone releasing in 2023, with 2024 being the most likely. That would put Apple's first foldable device five years behind its competition.

Some worry that Apple will simply be too far behind in the foldable market to capitalize on it before the next major trend in smartphones begins. There's certainly some truth to the core concept of that statement.

There is still plenty of opportunities for Apple to seize. And, as we've said many times before, Apple has the cash to wait out a product's reception at launch -- then iterate, and finally win the day.

Apple took this approach with the iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV+, and so many more products. And it will probably do it again with the iPhone Fold.

Read on AppleInsider
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 65
    red oakred oak Posts: 949member
    There is almost zero evidence any of these foldable phones (including the ones from Samsung) sell in any measurable volume

    Anyone who thinks Apple is now “ too far behind” is someone you need to avoid on all things Apple 🍎 
    9secondkox2williamlondondoozydozenchadbagmichelb76Bart Ywatto_cobradavgreg
  • Reply 2 of 65
    ricmacricmac Posts: 65member
    " paint a picture of Apple deeply in the throws of development."

    THROWS of development??  My best guess is that you were trying to use the word "throes."  But even there, I'm not sure that's an appropriate use of the word.  Good lord, discover the Thesaurus!
    DAalseth9secondkox2applguyJapheymike1dewmechadbagwatto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 3 of 65
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,186member
    While on the subject of judging ideas, well, foldable phones is a lousy one. 👎
    DAalsethjib9secondkox2chadbagBart Ywatto_cobradavgreg
  • Reply 4 of 65
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,339member
    Many of the first foldable devices were plagued by reliability issues"

    I'm unaware of any foldable phone being plagued with reliability issues. Quite the opposite is true.

    AFAIK, all folding phones that have come to market have had great reliability so far. 

    For the Samsung Fold, many review units were damaged by reviewers trying to remove a screen coating that should not have been removed.

    Once that was corrected, along with some further design enhancements, the units that were released performed well.


    michelb76lkruppcornchip
  • Reply 5 of 65
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,201member
    I really think Apple needs to go in a completely different direction. Rather than a sharp fold, and the resultant point of failure, how about a rolling phone? A 2-3 cm tube that snapped out flat to use. That way the stress is all across the screen so no single line will get creased, distort, or otherwise be more prone to failure. Sure they would need to figure out batteries and the circuit board, but it’s to my mind, a much more elegant solution than a crease.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 65
    ricmac said:
    " paint a picture of Apple deeply in the throws of development."

    THROWS of development??  My best guess is that you were trying to use the word "throes."  But even there, I'm not sure that's an appropriate use of the word.  Good lord, discover the Thesaurus!
    If we’re going down this road, let’s also have a moan about “Despite Apple choosing to thus far not compete” which needs to be “Despite Apple choosing thus far not to compete”. But tbh I think we either accept the writing, offer to be editors ourselves, or just go read another site. And in any case surely it’s a dictionary they want rather than a thesaurus. :)

    edited August 9 applguymike1macguiBart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 65
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 1,391member
    Nobody (outside of very few) wants a folding iPhone. It’s a niche concept. Nobody needs a folding iPhone. 

    An iPhone, iPad combo is better solution, removes caveats, provides the user with rock solid reliable devices that are the best in class - and it costs the same as a folding phone. 

    It really just doesn’t amount to much. I mean it’s cool to see once or twice. Outside of that, it just doesn’t accomplish anything. 

    The galaxy fold is just kind of sad and is a downgrade from tablet plus phone, while costing the same. 

    If you go the Microsoft route, it’s not really a foldable, more of a dual screen setup, minus bezels. 

    Cool in concept, gimmicky in reality. 



    tundraboyDAalsethwilliamlondonradarthekatBart Ycornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 65
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 1,391member
    avon b7 said:
    Many of the first foldable devices were plagued by reliability issues"

    I'm unaware of any foldable phone being plagued with reliability issues. Quite the opposite is true.

    AFAIK, all folding phones that have come to market have had great reliability so far. 

    For the Samsung Fold, many review units were damaged by reviewers trying to remove a screen coating that should not have been removed.

    Once that was corrected, along with some further design enhancements, the units that were released performed well.


    That was only part of it. The protector peeled itself away over time, the screen would fail, and a sharp crease would develop in the center. It was a really bad deal and Samsung has made numerous hardware changes, including making a bigger gap when the phone is closed (creating more roll) so as not to crease so badly. It still creases. 

    No one needs this. It’s a poor solution to a problem nobody has. 
    edited August 9 mike1williamlondonradarthekatBart Ycornchipwatto_cobratmay
  • Reply 9 of 65
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,838member
    I'd much prefer they apply flexible screen technology on large flat screen TVs so you can fold or roll those monstrosities and hide them when they're not in use.
    cornchipwatto_cobrazeus423
  • Reply 10 of 65
    thrangthrang Posts: 935member
    I don't understand the mass-market use case for a foldable phone. The way the vast majority of us utilize a phone - constantly referencing and glancing at it for dozens of tasks, from morning to night, who wants to constantly open and close it? What purpose does it serve? It will only be thicker to put in your pocket.

    Perhaps there is some use case for the iPad, given its use is a bit more measured and purposeful, and perhaps it integrates a digital keyboard into the foldout. Still, I cannot envision it having very large interest.
    designrradarthekatchadbagBart YTenApplesUpOnTopdavgregwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 65
    avon b7 said:
    Many of the first foldable devices were plagued by reliability issues"

    I'm unaware of any foldable phone being plagued with reliability issues. Quite the opposite is true.

    AFAIK, all folding phones that have come to market have had great reliability so far. 

    For the Samsung Fold, many review units were damaged by reviewers trying to remove a screen coating that should not have been removed.

    Once that was corrected, along with some further design enhancements, the units that were released performed well.


    The old argument from ignorance. Moveable parts will always be less reliable then a solid device. Battery covers, hinges, etc, they all break over time. It’s called wear and tear. Nobody seems to be buying foldable phones and I don’t expect that the change any time soon.
    9secondkox2williamlondonradarthekatchadbagBart Ywatto_cobrazeus423tmay
  • Reply 12 of 65
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 1,391member
    avon b7 said:
    Many of the first foldable devices were plagued by reliability issues"

    I'm unaware of any foldable phone being plagued with reliability issues. Quite the opposite is true.

    AFAIK, all folding phones that have come to market have had great reliability so far. 

    For the Samsung Fold, many review units were damaged by reviewers trying to remove a screen coating that should not have been removed.

    Once that was corrected, along with some further design enhancements, the units that were released performed well.


    The old argument from ignorance. Moveable parts will always be less reliable then a solid device. Battery covers, hinges, etc, they all break over time. It’s called wear and tear. Nobody seems to be buying foldable phones and I don’t expect that the change any time soon.
    Just the facts. Fundamental physics don’t change. You can mitigate, but not eliminate. Every time a screen is folded, damage is done on some level. 
    edited August 9 DAalsethradarthekatchadbagBart Ydavgregcornchipwatto_cobratmay
  • Reply 13 of 65
    owlboyowlboy Posts: 37member
    Anyone who wants foldable phones better not enjoy pointing out "planned obsolescence."

    Folding a phone seems like an obviously terrible idea unless the screen is in two parts and the hinge is solid metal and very traditionally sturdy.

    And do we want our screens to be even more scratch prone with softer more flexible screens? Apple already went away from nearly scratch proof glass. My iPhone SE had no scratches, and when I finally upgraded to an iPhone 12 mini, I had scratches within weeks. It was really surprising to me, no other iPhone or iPod touch I have owned was that scratchable. I'd rather take care not to shatter my screen than to have it be softer and get scratches easily. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 65
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,339member
    thrang said:
    I don't understand the mass-market use case for a foldable phone. The way the vast majority of us utilize a phone - constantly referencing and glancing at it for dozens of tasks, from morning to night, who wants to constantly open and close it? What purpose does it serve? It will only be thicker to put in your pocket.

    Perhaps there is some use case for the iPad, given its use is a bit more measured and purposeful, and perhaps it integrates a digital keyboard into the foldout. Still, I cannot envision it having very large interest.
    Folding phones can have more than one screen, so fill the 'glancing' part easily, as well as offering a greatly enhanced experience when actually folded out.

    Thickness isn't an issue really. The latest Huawei folding phone is basically the same thickness as an iPhone with a case on it and is actually far thinner when opened up. 
    dewme
  • Reply 15 of 65
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,339member
    avon b7 said:
    Many of the first foldable devices were plagued by reliability issues"

    I'm unaware of any foldable phone being plagued with reliability issues. Quite the opposite is true.

    AFAIK, all folding phones that have come to market have had great reliability so far. 

    For the Samsung Fold, many review units were damaged by reviewers trying to remove a screen coating that should not have been removed.

    Once that was corrected, along with some further design enhancements, the units that were released performed well.


    That was only part of it. The protector peeled itself away over time, the screen would fail, and a sharp crease would develop in the center. It was a really bad deal and Samsung has made numerous hardware changes, including making a bigger gap when the phone is closed (creating more roll) so as not to crease so badly. It still creases. 

    No one needs this. It’s a poor solution to a problem nobody has. 
    You'll have to give me some links to those issues. 

    I haven't read anything remotely like that across models to warrant the plagued by reliability issues. 

    As far as I can tell all manufacturers hit the ground running and have just got better. 

    New players are coming to market (OPPO, Honor etc) with some highly lauded devices. 

    Now we have to wait for prices to come down for more market penetration.

    I just had my brother over with his family all sporting Samsung Flip phones. They are chuffed with them. 
  • Reply 16 of 65
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,170member
    avon b7 said:
    Many of the first foldable devices were plagued by reliability issues"

    I'm unaware of any foldable phone being plagued with reliability issues. Quite the opposite is true.

    AFAIK, all folding phones that have come to market have had great reliability so far. 

    For the Samsung Fold, many review units were damaged by reviewers trying to remove a screen coating that should not have been removed.

    Once that was corrected, along with some further design enhancements, the units that were released performed well.


    Apple foldgate coming up…..
    williamlondoncornchipzeus423
  • Reply 17 of 65
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,614member
    I don’t see what the fuss is all about. We all know that the iPhone folds much better than e.g. a Motorola: 

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ3Ds6uf0Yg

    😂
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 65
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,339member
    danox said:
    avon b7 said:
    Many of the first foldable devices were plagued by reliability issues"

    I'm unaware of any foldable phone being plagued with reliability issues. Quite the opposite is true.

    AFAIK, all folding phones that have come to market have had great reliability so far. 

    For the Samsung Fold, many review units were damaged by reviewers trying to remove a screen coating that should not have been removed.

    Once that was corrected, along with some further design enhancements, the units that were released performed well.


    Apple foldgate coming up…..
    Ha! For sure but I think all doubts about the folding technology itself have been resolved.

    None of what was supposed to happen actually happened even after the false start by Samsung. 

    In reality, a glass front and backed phone is extremely delicate too. If you buy into a $2,000 folding phone, then money is no object or you baby it to the extreme. 

    That said, and even though I think there is a huge market waiting for folding phones once pricing comes down, there is something about scrolling phones that really appeals to me. 
  • Reply 19 of 65
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,990member
    Only one this is for certain.  ScamScum can make as many generations of foldable phones as they want, and the moment Apple introduces a solid, useable folding-screen iPhone, then the copy-machines will be firing up and claim they are simply going the next "obvious" step.
    williamlondonchadbagBart Ywatto_cobratmay
  • Reply 20 of 65
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,339member
    sflocal said:
    Only one this is for certain.  ScamScum can make as many generations of foldable phones as they want, and the moment Apple introduces a solid, useable folding-screen iPhone, then the copy-machines will be firing up and claim they are simply going the next "obvious" step.
    Solid, usable folding phones are already on the market. They will get better and cheaper. 

    If you want to reduce everything to 'copying', then, in that narrow minded view, it will clearly be Apple that is doing the copying.

    I can't see much point in viewing things that way though. 
    muthuk_vanalingamcornchip
Sign In or Register to comment.