Apple’s foldable iPhone still years away

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The iPhone that can unfold into an iPad might be farther away than we'd hoped.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The next dramatic shift in smartphone design is expected to be folding displays. An industry source in Asia says that Apple is developing a foldable iPhone but it won’t be out before 2020 and possibly even later.

This means Samsung could beat Apple to the punch. The foldable Galaxy X is rumored for release in the first half of 2019.

“Apple is attempting to release new iPhones with enhanced features next year and it is eyeing developing foldable iPhones, which will come several years later,” an unnamed industry source told The Korea Times.

The mention that a folding iPhone is coming “several years later” seems to indicate that the release might not be until 2021 or after. Previous reports had pointed to a 2020 release.

Although this will leave Samsung, and possibly Microsoft, ahead of the game, Apple rarely tries to be first with features. Its strategy is to try to implement  new features better than its competitors, not faster.

As an example of how it’s not always best to be first, the Samsung Galaxy X is expected to be insanely expensive.

Foldable iPhone with LG not Samsung

Samsung’s flexible display has drawn a great deal of attention, so some may have assumed Apple will source the screens for the foldable iPhone from this Korean company.

But Apple wouldn’t have to look very far to find another source: LG, which is also based in Korea. And there have been signs for years that’s the direction its going.

Unconfirmed reports that Apple and LG started exploring a foldable iPhone way back in 2016. And the two companies were reportedly still collaborating in 2017.  The project has stretched for years as LG and Apple worked to make the screens more durable. Clearly, they’re not interested in flexible screen that develops problems at the hinge point.

LG is reportedly going to start supplying OLED displays for the 2018 iPhone models. Samsung is the only source for the iPhone X screen, which contributed significantly to this product’s high price.

Smartphone sales of all types have slowed because this year’s models aren’t dramatically different than last year’s. That will certainly change when folding models hit store shelves, whether its 2019 or 2020.

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