Is Apple Making a Foldable Phone?
Apple is making plans to develop a new foldable phone and has been designing prototype foldable screens for internal testing.
Though Apple has been relatively silent on its plans regarding this, the move has been a long time coming. The tech giant, in the last few years, has filed for several patents on foldable smartphone designs, hinting at what's to come for the company's future phone models. Most recently, it won a patent for foldable electronic devices with geared hinges.
But plans for a release are still murky, as an anonymous source familiar with the project says that development has been limited to the phone's display for now. No full prototype for the phone has been revealed yet, but Apple is testing out different screen sizes, including one that can unfold to roughly the size of an iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Foldable smartphones allow for a larger display in a more portable form that's easier to fit into your pocket. Similar to the foldable phones from competitors like Samsung and Motorola, Apple's initial prototype screens will likely incorporate an "invisible hinge" as well.
It should be noted that, to date, the technology behind foldable smartphones is still imperfect, as evidenced by a number of unflattering reviews on currently released units. For example, there have been horror stories of Samsung Galaxy Fold phones breaking due to bulging along the crease of the phone's fold. The Korean smartphone giant imputed the problem to users peeling off the screen's protective layer, but some reviewers have disputed this point.
Meanwhile, Motorola's relaunch of its iconic flip phone brand, Razr, faced harsh critique from customers citing a laundry list of unimpressive features that didn't match the phone's price. Among the complaints were poor cameras, a squeaky hinge, and a terrible battery performance.
Additionally, one of the biggest drawbacks of foldable phones is the extra battery needed to power it. Fortunately, manufacturers have learned to enhance a design's efficiency by making individual components synchronize with the overall design. Whether it's the device's ports, net labels, or connecting wires, having a more integrated mechanical structure helps with the equal distribution of power to all its parts.
For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Fold features a 4,380 mAh dual battery - one on each side of the phone. Custom Samsung technology allows the phone to convert these two batteries into a single power source.
How Apple plans to refine this technology to offer something new remains to be seen. Currently, it trails behind its competitors who are already releasing new generations of their foldable phones before Apple releases its first. However, the California-based company has typically taken its time to work on new models, taking the mistakes of other tech companies and building on them to create phone models that are worth the usually heftier price tag.
Apple's plans for a foldable phone release are still in their very early stages. Depending on testing results, it may still be years away from release. It's also entirely possible that a foldable Apple phone may never be realized at all, as the company is currently working on launching the next generation of its flagship iPads and iPhones this year. Even if plans for the foldable model do come to fruition, experts say it's unlikely to replace Apple's main iPhone line.