Samsung just released the Galaxy Z Flip, and the three new phones that make up the company’s flagship Galaxy S20 lineup will hit store shelves on Friday in the United States and several other key markets. OnePlus is preparing to launch three new “flagship killers” in its OnePlus 8 smartphone series. Huawei’s upcoming P40 Pro will be unveiled at the end of the month, Xiaomi just started showing off a new smartphone with the most insane design we’ve ever seen, photos of Google’s new Pixel 4a just leaked for the first time, and then there’s the Galaxy Note 20 lineup Samsung will release later this year, perhaps alongside another foldable smartphone. And then there’s the iPhone 12 series that’s set to be released in September. Experts believe the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models are going to be so popular that they might even set a new all-time sales record, crushing every rival smartphone in the process. That would be quite a feat, especially in light of the deadly coronavirus outbreak that industry watchers believe will continue to impact smartphone production for months to come, if not longer.
There are so many exciting new smartphones set to be released over the course of the year in 2020. Real smartphones that people will actually be able to buy. And yet everywhere I look, people can’t stop talking about another device that recently popped up in a video on Instagram. It’s a render of an imaginary handset called the “iPhone 12 Flip,” and everyone is obsessed with it. Nothing even remotely like the iPhone 12 Flip will be released this year or even in the next 5 to 10 years, so it might seem silly that people are so excited about it. That said, this impossibly sleek and slim concept phone is so stunning that it’s worth revisiting.
We first told you about this crazy iPhone 12 Flip phone that an Instagram user dreamt up last week, and yet people are still going nuts over it a full week later. It has gotten to the point where I can’t even search Google for something related to the iPhone or scroll through my gadget blog news feed without seeing something about this video. That’s pretty crazy for something that happened a week ago, so I wanted to revisit the video and quickly discuss how realistic it actually might be, and how close we are to really seeing a foldable iPhone or any foldable smartphone with a design that’s anything like this.
Here’s another look at the video, if you somehow haven’t already seen it:
As of the time of this writing, the video has nearly 1.5 million views and it’s fairly easy to see why. Flip phones with foldable OLED screens are just starting to emerge in real life, but they’re still fairly clunky and ugly since the technology is quite new. The “iPhone 12 Flip” dreamt up by Instagram user @bat.not.bad, on the other hand, is beautifully sleek and slender. What’s more, the mockup has an all-screen design with a display that stretches all the way to the edges of the phone with no notch, bezels, selfie camera, ear speaker, or any other breaks. On top of that, additional displays adorn the outside of the iPhone 12 Flip on the front and on the top opposite the hinge.
First things first: this design is impossible. That goes without saying. There are simply too many technological limitations preventing practically every aspect of this phone’s design from existing. It’s far too slim to house the internal components needed for a modern smartphone, and it likely also wouldn’t be able to fit a battery big enough to last more than a few minutes. There’s also no gap at the top for a hinge, which means the glass or plastic on the back would have to stretch. That’s impossible, too.
On the inside, we’re not quite at the point where an OLED screen can extend all the way to the edges of the frame with no bezel. As for the lack of a front-facing camera and other sensors, the technology needed to hide these components behind active areas of the display actually does exist. That said, it’s nowhere near ready to be mass-produced on a scale Apple would need in an iPhone.
There are countless other reasons this iPhone 12 Flip design is impossible, and we’re likely a decade or more away from seeing anything like this in the real world. And to get a phone that thin, there would have to be incredible breakthroughs in graphene battery technology or another cutting-edge battery tech, and the rest of the internal components would have to be shrunk down. On top of all that, I’m not sure there is any metal on Earth that’s strong enough to keep a phone like that from bending or even snapping. Tungsten, perhaps? I’m not even sure that would handle the job, though.
We know from various patent filings that Apple is indeed working behind closed doors on foldable iPhone concepts, and there’s a very good chance that the company will someday launch an iPhone that folds. If and when that finally does happen, the device won’t look anything like this iPhone 12 Flip concept, unfortunate though that may be. Instead, it’ll look a lot more like Samsung’s Galaxy X Flip, which is pictured above.
We’re still years away from the possibility of a foldable iPhone, so Apple’s theoretical clamshell phone will likely be much slimmer and more refined than the Z Flip since the technologies involved will have come a long way in that period of time. It still won’t look anything at all like the iPhone 12 Flip concept in that video, however. Maybe we’ll see something like that by the time the iPhone 25 hits store shelves a few dozen decades from now.