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Someone made a foldable iPhone before Apple

Updated Dec 16th, 2022 4:04PM EST
iPhone 14 design.
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Apple does not have a foldable iPhone to compete against the foldable Galaxy handsets from Samsung and various foldable smartphones from China, and it’s not like it really needs one. But the Cupertino-based company is certainly studying technology that would let it manufacture devices with foldable screens.

Rumors say Apple might make a foldable iPad or Mac before a foldable iPhone. Whatever the path Apple might have chosen, we’re still a few years away from it. But you don’t have to wait to see a foldable iPhone in action. I’m not just talking about concepts that imagine what such a device would do. Someone turned an iPhone X into a foldable iPhone that’s functional.

We shouldn’t be surprised that someone took apart an Apple product to customize the hardware. We saw similar tricks in the past. Someone put a headphone jack on the iPhone 7. A different engineer added USB-C ports to the iPhone X and AirPods recently.

It was only a matter of time until someone tried to build a foldable iPhone. The first attempt comes from YouTuber 科技美学 and his team.

It took them several months and a considerable budget to pull the whole thing off. They used iPhone X components that fitted inside the Motorola Razr chassis to make this elusive iPhone V foldable handset.

The process was very difficult, as separating the iPhone X’s OLED screen layers to preserve the flexible parts was daunting. Not only that, but the team had to customize the internal wiring and rearrange the iPhone’s components to fit inside the two halves of the Razr.

Foldable iPhone V concept render.
Foldable iPhone V concept render. Image source: YouTube

Interestingly, they also tried a Galaxy Z Flip chassis, but Samsung’s design did not fit their needs.

The foldable iPhone design also required some compromises. The iPhone V prototype has a much smaller battery than the iPhone X. Therefore, battery life will suffer significantly. Moreover, the handset doesn’t support wireless charging.

Finally, the team tried adapting iOS to recreate foldable smartphone experiences you’d see on competing devices. Like having two apps run side by side. Needless to say, the workarounds they employed are not perfect. That’s understandable, as you can’t just take apart iOS and recode it for foldable screen experiences.

The overall result is a functional foldable iPhone that doesn’t necessarily look pretty. The image above shows a digital render of the concept.

The foldable OLED screen will break after a few days of use, as it can’t withstand repeated folding and unfolding.

Be sure to turn on the subtitles and watch the entire foldable iPhone clip below. The 17-minute video gives us an idea of how complicated the engineering of a foldable device is.

Whether it’s an iPhone or a Galaxy, making a foldable phone is an incredibly challenging process. The video also explains why Apple would want to wait to make a foldable iPhone. The technology isn’t ready, and the compromises might not be worth it.

More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.