Apple has at least two prototypes of folding iPhones in clamshell format, The Information claims. It is also reported that the company has been working on foldable smartphone and tablet technology since 2018. However, consumers will not see a foldable iPhone anytime soon.
According to the publication, the foldable iPhone is at an early stage of development, so its appearance on the market should not be expected in the near future. The same publication claims that Apple is developing a foldable iPad tablet, which it began after encountering problems developing a foldable smartphone. The article also notes that Apple recently discussed with suppliers in Asia orders for components for the foldable iPhone in two different sizes. However, the company may end up canceling the foldable smartphone project entirely if the final product does not meet its high standards of quality and design.
The author of the article claims that Apple’s industrial design team wanted to create a device that, when unfolded, would be half as thin as current iPhone models, so that when folded it would not be too thick. As part of the development of prototypes, the company’s engineers and designers considered the possibility of equipping the foldable device with an additional external screen. However, insufficient development of battery and screen technologies has made these tasks difficult for Apple.
The article also states that Apple suspended the foldable iPhone project around 2020 and instead focused on a foldable iPad project roughly the size of the iPad mini model. This device will have a screen size of about eight inches. The company has less stringent quality and durability requirements for the foldable iPad compared to smartphones. Less stringent requirements were also put forward for the thickness of the folding tablet, since it is not expected that the gadget will be carried in a pocket.
Apple is also said to be working to reduce the visible crease on the flexible display that appears after folding and unfolding the device multiple times. Apple wants the device to have a completely flat screen when opened, which would allow it to be freely used for drawing or working with an electronic stylus.
The article does not specify whether Apple was able to solve all of these problems. However, it is obvious that the iPhone 16 and iPhone 17 will be traditional devices in the all-in-one form factor.