Despite an avalanche of hype and intrigue, the 2019 release of the Samsung Galaxy Fold was really a lot more bark than bite. The device looked cool, but if we’re being honest, it was something of a clunker and our initial review of the device called it a “piece of junk” that should be avoided at all costs. Hardly a unique take, the Galaxy Fold was universally panned upon its release.
The dud that was the Galaxy Fold made it easy to dismiss the notion that there would ever be a market for a foldable smartphone. But a year later, Samsung released the Galaxy Z Flip and made everyone rethink what they thought about foldable smartphones. Boasting a different design than the Galaxy Fold, the Galaxy Z Flip opened up vertically rather than horizontally. What’s more, many of the fit and finish issues that plagued the Galaxy Fold were far less prominent on the Galaxy Z Flip. So while it was hard to recommend the Galaxy Z Flip given its $1380 sticker price, the device was a success insofar that it proved it was possible to launch a viable foldable smartphone.
This brings us, of course, to Apple.
Famously, Apple has never been interested in being the first company to market a particular type of device. After all, the iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player and the iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone. Still, both products revolutionized their respective markets by offering an unrivaled user experience with respect to both hardware and software.
Might Apple do the same with a foldable smartphone?
Well, according to a number of credible sources, Apple engineers have been working on foldable iPhone designs in recent years. And while we’ll get to those rumors in a second, we first wanted to show you this concept video of what an iPhone 13 Flip might look like. The device boasts a similar design to the Galaxy Z Flip but has the clever addition of a module on the back that displays the time and various controls for easy access when the device is closed.
Now is this what a foldable iPhone would look like if Apple ever goes down the foldable smartphone route? Probably not.
According to a rumor from noted leaker Jon Prosser, Apple’s design will feature “two separate display panels on a hinge” and “round, stainless steel edges” similar to iPhone 11 design. The device will reportedly not include a notch but will feature a “tiny forehead” right above the display to house Face ID and other sensors.
“The memes are funny,” Prosser said late last year, “but it doesn’t look like they just stuck two phones together. Even though they’re two separate panels, when the displays are extended, it looks fairly continuous and seamless.”
And while Prosser has a hit-or-miss track record with respect to Apple rumors, Apple over the past few years has filed an increasing number of patents related to foldable iPhone displays. The larger takeaway here is that Apple is actively exploring a foldable iPhone design and there’s a decent possibility we’ll see one in the next few years.
Incidentally, a rumor from Weibo last year claimed that Apple back in September ordered a “large number” of foldable displays from Samsung for prototype testing. Meanwhile, top Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo last month said that Apple could bring a foldable iPhone with a 7.5-inch to 8-inch display to market as soon as 2023.