A Foldable iPhone Might Finally Be on the Way

And it could be a clamshell foldable.

Originally Published: 
Hands holding iPhone 15 in landscape.
Photograph by Raymond Wong

Apple might not stay out of the foldable phone game for very long. A report from The Information suggests the iPhone maker is building at least two prototypes of a foldable phone in a clamshell style. The report credits this info to a “person with direct knowledge of the situation,” but rumors have been circulating that Apple has been looking into foldable devices for a couple of years now.

It sounds like Apple is still deep in the development process for any sort of foldable iPhone, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the company took several years to release it, or even abandoned the project altogether. Even the report from The Information notes that Apple could cancel these products if they don’t meet its standards.

Either way, a clamshell iPhone would be a huge move for Apple considering it hasn’t offered a fresh form factor since, well, ever really.

Could a foldable iPhone be Apple’s next big project following its Vision Pro?


A Design Challenge, Even For Apple

According to The Information, Apple wants to make its foldable “as thin as current iPhone models” — a feat that could actually be possible, or at least close to possible. Honor, for example, just debuted its Magic V2 foldable in Europe recently and it’s almost as thin as an iPhone 15 Pro when folded up. That being said, making a foldable as thin as a traditional smartphone comes with the challenge of cramming in all the bulky internal components like the battery and display parts, as noted by The Information.

The company’s industrial design team reportedly wanted to make a foldable where the displays fold outward but ran into the issue of it breaking when dropped. Like every other foldable phone maker, Apple likely wants to reduce the crease visibility as much as possible. Hinges have proven to be a difficult component to foldables but if anyone can figure out how to make it look sleek, it would be Apple.

The report also points out that Apple did speak to at least one display manufacturer in Asia about getting parts for various sizes of foldable iPhones. The different sizes of foldable displays could indicate Apple wants to put out a foldable iPad. The Information’s report even confirms that Apple is looking into making a foldable tablet that’s around the same size as the iPad Mini’s eight-inch display.

We could be seeing a foldable tablet from Apple, like this Lenovo model.


Not Coming Anytime Soon

This report may be the clearest indication we’ve gotten that Apple is invested in making a foldable iPhone. We shouldn’t count on it being released anytime soon though, since The Information reports that there aren’t any plans for mass production in 2024 or 2025. That tracks, since Apple is historically late to the party on emerging technology.

It’s pretty unlikely that Apple will address one of the major issues plaguing this smartphone form factor currently: affordability. This is Apple after all, so if a foldable iPhone does materialize, it likely won’t be cheaper than its current iPhone 15 Pro models or the Galaxy Z Flip 5, which both start at $999.

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