Rumors that Apple has been working on a foldable iPhone — the iPhone Flip — have been circulating for months, but it appears that the company is stepping up its internal experimentation. A new leak on Chinese social network Weibo suggests that Apple has ordered a “large number” of foldable screens from Samsung.
The foldable displays are reported to be samples for a number of prototype designs, rather than the company ramping up full production, so it would be extremely optimistic to imagine we’ll see anything foldable at this week’s Apple event. Indeed, there’s no guarantee that the company will end up with a prototype that it believes is suitable for mass production.
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All the same, this is a big deal for those hoping that Apple will follow in the path of Samsung and go all in on foldable handsets. Samsung, of course, has two foldable designs: the Galaxy Z Fold 2, which opens out to a large tablet along the Y axis, and the Galaxy Z Flip which opens up into a regular sized phone along the X axis. There’s even a rumored Galaxy Z Fold S with a 360-degree hinge. So what route is Apple taking?
We don’t actually know. While some optimistic concept artists have come up with an iPhone Flip design, the only real evidence we have comes from prolific Apple leaker Jon Prosser, who said back in June that the current prototype “isn’t really a foldable.”
“The current prototype has two separate display panels on a hinge,” he tweeted. “Round, stainless steel edges like current iPhone 11 design. No notch — tiny forehead on outer display that houses Face ID.”
You might be picturing something like the Microsoft Surface Duo at this point, but Prosser says that, even at the prototype stage, Apple has something a bit more slick in mind.
“The memes are funny — but it doesn’t look like they just stuck two phones together,” he continued. “Even though they’re two separate panels, when the displays are extended, it looks fairly continuous and seamless.”
pic.twitter.com/RN93E1bRGtJune 13, 2020
That doesn’t sound like the kind of thing which would require an order of foldable Samsung displays though, so perhaps Apple is refining the design. Or possibly it has a whole host of concepts that it’s working on.
Delving in to the Apple patents archive reveals a whole host of possible options, from book-style designs to clamshells to unrollable scrolls. All bets are off as to which one we’ll see in Tim Cook’s hands first, if any.
Whichever ultimately emerges, don’t bet on seeing it this year. Well, not if Prosser’s sources are correct anyway.