Why Apple’s foldable iPhone isn’t a thing…yet

This story is part of Hotspot iPhone 2022CNET’s collection of news, tips, and advice on Apple’s most popular products.

What is happening

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4 foldable phones debuted in the summer, and it seems that very few companies are challenging that in the foldable market.

why does it matter

With the fourth generation of foldable phones, Samsung is hoping to make the design unique. Meanwhile, Apple has not released a single foldable iPhone.

What’s Next

Rumors suggest that Apple may launch a foldable iPhone as early as 2024. But making a foldable iPhone is complicated.

New Apple iPhone 14 It includes some of the biggest hardware updates that’s been on the line in years, including iPhone 14 Pro Redesigned cutout for dynamic island contextual notifications and iPhone 14 Plus Model. But among the changes, Apple has not yet confirmed whether there are rumors about a foldable iPhone device in development. This is particularly intriguing as Samsung continues to improve its foldable phone lineup, revealing Galaxy Z Flip 4 and the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in its annual session unpacked August event.

Samsung is not the only company that makes phones with foldable screens. there Motorola Razr. and outside the United States, Huawei And the xiaomi They also have foldable phones. Which leaves us with an obvious question: Where is Apple’s foldable iPhone?

Apple does not comment on future products

The first thing to keep in mind is that Apple doesn’t announce products until they’re ready. Well, there was a file AirPower Wireless Charging Pad. But other than that, Apple won’t tell us it’s working on a foldable iPhone or confirm the rumors.

Then, Apple typically positions products as a solution to a problem, highlighting quality and innovation.

The Galaxy Z Fold seems less of an answer to a problem but more of a “look at this tech magic, what can we do with it?!” And the cool factor, as innovative as it is, comes at the expense of the features we’ve come to expect from feature phones, including battery life, ergonomics, software experience and price. The Galaxy Z Flip solves the portability issue, but it comes with some of the same drawbacks as the Fold, especially in terms of battery life and camera quality.

To be fair, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 took a significant step forward by embracing its large home screen and adding support for Samsung’s S Pen. And it looks like the Z Fold 4’s optimized Flex mode for apps may tip the balance, making the fold more useful than cool.

If Apple released a foldable iPhone, what problem would it solve? Could it be the iPhone Flip, replacing the iPhone 13 Mini by offering a large screen that’s still pocket friendly? Or will it be an iPhone Fold – more like an iPad Mini that folds in half, making its enclosed size more like an iPhone 13 Pro Max? Or will we see a design that doesn’t exist yet? How about the iPhone Roll, where there is a file The screen opens like an extended window shadow? This is where rumors start to enter the picture.

Foldable iPhone 00000

Why does Apple need a foldable iPhone? What problems do you solve?

Celso Bolgatti / CNET

iPhone Fold Rumors

Back in January 2021, Mark Gorman wrote for Bloomberg That Apple “began early work on the iPhone with a foldable screen, a potential competitor to similar devices from Samsung.”

And in May 2021, Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo saidAs reported by MacRumors, “Apple will likely release a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD Plus flexible OLED display in 2023”. See his predictions, in Tweet last April, let’s say it might be 2025 before there’s a device with a foldable screen from Apple. It’s also worth noting that Kuo’s tweet was on April 1, which means it was probably an April Fool’s joke.

Both Gurman and Kuo have excellent track records when it comes to Apple rumors. So if these reports are accurate, we will see a foldable iPhone in 2025. It will be roughly the size of an iPad Mini and will fold in half. end of story. But wait.

How to make a foldable iPhone

Before Apple makes a foldable iPhone, it needs to know this How To make a foldable iPhone. research company Omdia claims that in 202111.5 million foldable phones have been shipped. Apple sells hundreds of millions of iPhones annually. Therefore, if an iPhone is foldable, it must be sure that it can manufacture phones of the same quality and in a quantity high enough to meet the demand. Oftentimes when Apple introduces a drastic hardware change — like the 2014 iPhone 6 Plus and its larger screen — these models are hard to find at launch because they sell out quickly. Sometimes they are given a later release date, as we saw with the launch of the iPhone 12 Mini and 12 Pro Max.

Then there is the physical complexity to consider. Foldable phones have many mechanical parts that can malfunction or wear out, such as the hinge components that keep out dust and the various layers behind the foldable screen. In fact, when Journalists tested the original Galaxy Fold review units, the device has been subjected to hinge and display failure. That was years ago, of course, and Samsung has since fixed these issues. But it shows what can happen with first-generation products.

If a foldable iPhone is in the works, it’s possible that Apple will innovate in its design to reduce the parts and mechanisms involved, making it less likely that the phones will fail due to something happening. The Cupertino company has a proven track record in this field.

When Apple released the iPhone 7, it replaced the home button with the home button, so there was less mechanical part that could break. And if you’ve ever owned or used a MacBook, you know that Apple is at the top of its game when it comes to hinged design and reliability. Apple also sells AppleCare Plus — and it includes a global infrastructure to support it — which, should it release a foldable phone, could help ease concerns about problems or accidental damage.

iPadOS using a secondary screen

Apple’s iPad operating system has been separated from iOS, in part to accommodate larger screens like this second screen in the iPad OS 16 beta.

Screenshot / CNET

iOS and iPadOS must be renewed

Then there is the program. One UI, which is Samsung’s name for its Android use, has to be the most underappreciated aspect of the Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold. These new designs should simultaneously do all the things we’ve come to expect from current phones while creating new functions that take advantage of their foldable screens. They will also have to do all these things flawlessly without any bugs or hiccups.

For example, the Flex mode for Galaxy phones has been around for years. Essentially, when folded or flipped into an L-shape, like a small laptop computer, the software moves an app to the top half of the screen while providing functionality on the bottom. Sounds cool and full of possibilities, right?

Galaxy Z Flip 3 L shape.

Galaxy Z Flip 3 in flex mode.

Sarah Teo / CNET

Well, until this year this functionality was limited. That’s why it’s important that Samsung’s Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4 let you turn the lower half of their screens into touchpads while in flexible mode. The company is now showing an additional interest in the fold.

I’d like to see more software optimized for foldable phones. And I expect Apple to face the same challenges as Samsung, especially when adapting iOS and iPadOS.

In recent years, iOS and iPadOS separated as Apple created more iPad-specific features that wouldn’t make sense on iPhone. The foldable iPhone, especially along the lines of the Galaxy Z Fold 4, requires a reunification of the two operating systems. Or Apple will have to develop a new software platform that can switch between tablet and phone mode.

It’s possible that Apple will develop a unique software feature (think iMessage or Portrait Mode) to help make its foldable phone stand out from the rest.

How much would you pay for a foldable iPhone?

Foldable phones are not cheap. Galaxy Z Fold 4 starts at $1,800 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 at $1,000. Not surprisingly, the prices of Apple products are high. So if the iPhone 14 Pro that doesn’t fold in half really costs $1,000, what is the price of the device that doesn’t fold in half?

For the foldable iPhone to succeed, Apple will need to create problem-solving design, scale manufacturing without sacrificing quality and develop hardware along with software that makes the most of its foldable architecture. The price should also be excellent, but not too high.

So where is the foldable iPhone? still in the oven.

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