Apple is reportedly testing two different folding iPhone designs. But only one of them has a flexible screen. If one of the prototypes successfully passes testing, it could become the first foldable iOS handset.
Apple is working on a solution for the biggest drawback of folding displays. The first generation of foldable handsets made by rival companies develop a crease where the screen bends, but Apple engineers want to put a bendable display that includes a self-healing material in a folding iPhone.
When Apple gets into the foldable phone market, as arch-rival Samsung has already done, its first model might well look much like the iPhone 12 Flip. But for now, this is only a concept design.
Watch a video of it now:
Apple has undoubtedly been investigating a folding iPhone for years because it keeps patenting designs. Including one awarded on Tuesday for an iPhone that folds closed while leaving a portion of the screen exposed to display status updates.
It would be easier to make a foldable iPhone or iPad if it could include a flexible battery. Apple is investigating these as a power source, and was granted a patent on the technology on Tuesday.
In recent years, the company received many patents related to computers built around folding displays. They’re proof that Apple is actively exploring using these in future products.
It’s not yet clear whether foldable phones are a temporary gimmick or the future of mobile devices. But Apple’s certainly interested — and in a newly published patent, it describes its approach to solving one of the most often-raised problems with folding phones.
That problem? How to ensure that a foldable device doesn’t become creased or damaged when it folds. Early folding phones, such as Samsung’s troubled Galaxy Fold, have been plagued by this problem. But Apple engineers developed a solution that could help.
Samsung’s demonstration on the dangers of letting one’s reach exceed one’s grasp is almost over. The Galaxy Fold, the first mass-market phone with a foldable display, will reach US customers’ hands on Friday, many months after first scheduled.
Despite well-publicized problems, this company is already hard at work on a more affordable version. And rivals, including Apple, are also considering flexible screen handsets.
Samsung isn’t yet ready to commit to a release date for its troubled Galaxy Fold. Information leaking out last month had indicated the delayed folding handset might be out before July. However, Samsung said today that it isn’t prepared to commit to a timeframe.
Deciding now that an folding iPhone is a terrible idea is premature. There just isn’t enough information yet to judge whether any such device is something you’ll want. And it’s betting against Apple’s history of success in areas where others have failed.
While the first foldable devices from other companies have serious flaws, that in no way means any eventual Apple device with a flexible screen will be equally bad. There’s actually plenty of reason to think it won’t.