According to The Information, Apple has at least two prototypes of foldable iPhones in a flip-phone form factor. The report also states that the company has been working on foldable smartphone and tablet technology since 2018. However, consumers may not see a foldable iPhone anytime soon.
The foldable iPhone is said to be in the early stages of development, indicating that its market debut is not imminent. The same publication suggests that Apple is also developing a foldable iPad, a project initiated after facing challenges in creating a foldable smartphone. The article notes that Apple has recently discussed component orders for foldable iPhones of two different sizes with suppliers in Asia. However, the company may ultimately scrap the foldable smartphone project if the final product does not meet its high standards for quality and design.
The article's author claims that Apple's industrial design team aimed to create a device that, when unfolded, would be half as thin as current iPhone models to avoid excessive thickness when folded. During the prototype development, engineers and designers explored the possibility of equipping the foldable device with an additional external screen. However, technological limitations in battery and screen development posed challenges for Apple.
The article also reveals that Apple suspended the foldable iPhone project around 2020 and shifted its focus to a foldable iPad, roughly the size of an iPad mini. This device is expected to have an approximately eight-inch screen. Quality and durability requirements for the foldable iPad are less stringent compared to smartphones, and the thickness criteria are also less strict since the device is not intended to be carried in a pocket.
It is also reported that Apple is working on minimizing the visibility of folds on the flexible display that may appear after multiple folding and unfolding cycles. Apple aims to have a completely flat screen when the device is unfolded, allowing for convenient use in drawing or with an electronic stylus.
The article does not specify whether Apple has successfully addressed all the mentioned challenges. However, it is evident that iPhone 16 and iPhone 17 will continue to be traditional monoblock devices.