If you stand on the street for a random survey – should Apple launch a foldable iPhone – you’ll return with replies in the affirmative more often than expected.
The foldable phone market has matured since the niggly launches of Samsung’s first foldable and the Motorola Razr. Phones unveiled in 2020 have less fragile displays, bendable screens do not cringe, hinges are better sealed against dust and water, and the handsets are working their way up to be as durable as our regular smartphones.
Samsung is definitely leading the pack with foldable smartphones that either flip open or unfold like a book to offer tablet-like display in phone form factor. Koreans along with the other companies – Motorola, Huawei and others experimenting with the possibility – are understanding the fact that a phone that folds must do so for a purpose, delivering folding phones just because they are in trend is not enough.
Apple is watching all this transformation happen from the sidelines. There have been hints of Apple toying around with the possibility of its own foldable phone but nothing substantial has ever made to the mainframe. Apple has filed a few patent applications and numerous mockups of what a foldable iPhone could look like have crowded the tech space; yet we are awaiting a folding iPhone, which if latest reports are anything to go by, is not going to come to fruition before September of 2022.
The First Apple patent for a phone that folds was seen in 2016. A year later, there was some more movement backed by a number of intriguing patents since but the Cupertino giant has been utterly secretive about the progress it has made in all these years. It has been carefully weighing its options, while OEMs toil and mend issues creeping up in their devices.ADVERTISING
Folding phone technology is inching closer to a full proof state where bigger issues like durability and battery life are resolved and people can use these folding devices as their daily driver. Getting a foldable phone with the level of Apple’s bend for design and precision sure sounds exciting. Apple has this knack of delivering products whose designs influence the industry – as in the case of iPods, iPads, and undoubtedly since the release of the first iPhone in 2007.
Only a countable number of foldable phones have been widely released, and companies are still fine-tuning their offerings to gel with the consumers’ demand. In such a scenario; Apple, which can be ridiculed for chasing other monikers from two blocks behind has an open ground in front of it. A device with a level of Apple’s polish will make a niche for itself – given that Apple has done its share of R&D to cook up the ideal recipe for a folding phone.
Unapologetically, Apple has considered taking time before releasing its own devices, especially so in case of adopting new technologies for the iPhone for instance the face unlocking or wireless charging. It is not surprising then that a foldable iPhone – flip or fold, whatever it would be called – wasn’t rolled out with the iPhone 12 line-up this year, nor is there a possibility of seeing it with the iPhone 13 next year – but it’s inevitable.
Motorola, Huawei, and Samsung have different styles of folding phones already on the market. Apple has in addition proposed a foldable phone – via patent application – featuring hinges that can fold in half or in thirds. The patent doesn’t clearly state that this technology is for use in a phone – but it says “it would be desirable for use in flexible displays” – easy to guess what Apple is hinting at.
Apple had also proposed a different spin to the foldable phones with self-healing skins for such devices. LG introduced the concept of a self-healing rear cover, which can repair minor abrasions on its own, in a very nascent stage in its G Flex phablet, but the technology never really took off. Apple’s application is no indication that it is working on a foldable phone with a ‘self-healing elastomer’ body, but if it does, there is no looking back. More
By Bharat Bhushan https://www.slashgear.com/