Yep, we’re doing this! We’re talking about the flipping iPhone again. Seriously. Flipping and folding and hinge… ing. Just all the transformables that made all the headlines over the last few days via Front Page Tech’s John Prosser and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.
But we’re adding a twist. No, not an iPhone twit. Jobs forbid. But a plot twist. Because here’s what they said…
First up, Apple is working on an iPhone that has two separate displays hinged together, like a Surface Duo
Just not as limited as the Surface Duo because… well, I’ll get to that in a hot minute.
Because, I’ve been hearing about these prototypes since… around… 2010 or 2011. About the same time I heard about Apple working on larger versions of the iPhone 4 series. Of course, Apple never released larger versions of the iPhone 4 because they thought the early big screen technologies… just sucked. Like OLED back when Pentile was so big and un-aliased the sub-pixels looked like tiles.
So, Apple waited to go taller with the iPhone 5 series but only went bigger with the iPhone 6 some 4 years later, and only went OLED with the iPhone X some 7 years later.
A while back, Jon said more recent prototypes have been similar to current iPhones, but with a forehead rather than notch, and they look fairly seamless when open. But that things there may just be changing as well…
Basically, that Apple is now working on a foldable iPhone that has one single display that opens from phone to tablet, like the Galaxy Fold.
Apple’s been looking at this since flexible OLED became a thing. They just didn’t think it was durable enough for primetime. So, back in 2017, they folded it inside the iPhone X casing instead, so they could create that corner-to-curved-corner display.
Mark said they haven’t prototyped a full folding handset yet, just worked on the display tech in the labs.
And Jon says it’s Samsung panels they’re working on, like the ones used for the Galaxy Fold. But, another twist on that in a minute as well.
Because, basically, same as bigger iPhones in 2010, Apple’s not like Samsung, not just super eager to always yell first in the comments section of major markets. They’re happy to wait, to watch, to see how products like Samsung’s are received, see what problems people still have with them, and then figure out an Apple-style solution.
That’s why, for customers like us, having both Apple and Samsung, and everyone else using different go-to-market strategies is so great. We can try out the Galaxy Fold while Apple is still working on the iPhone fold.
And also the iPhone Flip, that opens from a pocket watch into a phone, like the Moto Razr or Galaxy Flip.
Look, Apple has billions of dollars. Screw that. Their billions of dollars have billions of dollars. They can not only easily afford to explore, even prototype everything every competitor is shipping, but anything any blogger, podcaster, or creator can imagine.
Proof positive is just how many flipping folding patents are already in Apple’s portfolio. It’s redonkulous.
Mark said Apple has at least discussed a phone that unfolds to the same size as the current 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max.
And Apple doesn’t just use Samsung’s OLED process as is, either. They provide their own design specs, sometimes their own material specs, and implement them often very differently as well.
For example, Jon said Apple’s wouldn’t use Samsung’s protective coating but a version of their and Corning’s Ceramic Shield instead.
So, when will Apple unfold or unflip any or all of these iPhones?
Well, Apple kind of looks at new and emerging tech foldables in stages of maturity. Like kindergarten level… primary level… eventually graduate level. Ready for prime time. And with very few exceptions, they keep all the early experiments strictly internal. Their… Galaxy Fold or flip 1 will just always and only ever exist in the labs, never on the shelves.
When they say there are a thousand no’s for every yes, it’s because they literally make tons of products they never ship… for every one they do.
But I’m still super bullish on this. Unlike Android, which Google is working on with companies like Microsoft, Samsung, and Moto to adapt to foldables, iOS has had auto-layout and size classes for years. There are already watch interfaces and apps on the ultra-compact side and iPadOS and the biggest catalog of tablet apps in the world on the expansive side. Except for Instagram, because 2021 and still no damn iPad version, seriously?
And with newer technologies like SwiftUI, which is what Apple used to scale the new widget system from the Apple Watch through the iPhone to the Mac, it’s not hard to imagine all the software heavy lifting is all mostly done already.
And let’s face it, humans just love to fold stuff. Books, wallets, tacos, pizza — if you’re not an animal — clothing, glasses, everything. But AirPods Max. And I’m sure foldables, transformables of all kinds, are, at the very least, will be part of the near-future of consumer tech as well.