An ‘iPhone Flip’ Is Still In the Works

iPhone flip Credit: Umang Dokey / iLounge
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While rumors of Apple’s work on foldable iPhones have been swirling for years, it’s been a while since we’ve heard any meaningful new information on what the company is up to in that area. Some of this may have gotten lost in all the excitement around the Vision Pro, but now that Apple’s cleared that hurdle, it seems we’re getting some new insights into the so-called “iPhone Flip.”

Samsung has been turning out foldable smartphones for nearly five years now, and while its original Galaxy Fold was, to put it mildly, a disaster, it showed the Korean smartphone maker wasn’t afraid to iterate — and fail — in public. However, it also showed that people were interested in the idea of a folding phone, even if not its execution at the time.

Samsung took that ball and ran with it for a couple more years, and by 2022, it had come out with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4, cool and sophisticated phones that could almost tempt me to go to the other side.

However, that was just the tip of the iceberg, and it was in 2023 that foldable phones came into their own. Google and OnePlus entered the arena for the first time with two vertically folding phablet phones, while Motorola revived its iconic Razr lineup with a pair of modern takes on the horizontally folding flip phones.

Meanwhile, while we’ve never had reason to believe Apple has given up on the idea of creating a folding phone, it’s apparent that it’s been biding its time to wait and see where the market was going. Some inside sources suggested Apple’s top executives believed folding phones may have just been a passing fad.

However, while they may still be niche products, last year’s releases seem to indicate that they’ve moved beyond the “fad” stage, and Apple is reportedly showing renewed interest in developing an “iPhone Flip” that would potentially be similar to the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Motorola Razr.

This latest news comes from Wayne Ma at The Information, who has often proven to have reliable insights into what’s going on in Cupertino. In this case, he spoke with two people who have “direct knowledge” of a project where Apple is prototyping two “clamshell” iPhone models.

apple iphone flip concept 01 copy

Ma notes that the devices are in the very early stages of development, so there’s no way we should expect to see them this year or even in 2025. There’s a slight possibility of a 2026 release, but we wouldn’t recommend marking your calendars yet, as it’s not the first time we’ve heard this song.

After all, reports in late 2020 revealed that Apple was testing foldable displays, which led some analysts to predict that the first foldable iPhones would appear by late 2021 or early 2022. In 2021, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple would sell 20 million foldable iPhones in 2023, which seems downright quaint in early 2024.

The rumors of Apple testing foldable displays were likely true, as there was solid evidence that Apple was ordering those from its suppliers, along with hinges and other related components. However, there can be a long road between testing something and actually turning it into a product.

The same is true of this latest report. The fact that Apple is building prototypes of an “iPhone Flip” is very promising, but that doesn’t automatically translate to an actual product. Prototypes are a way of putting engineering and design concepts to the test, and they can still fail those tests. Ma’s sources even confirm that Apple hasn’t made any final decisions, and the entire project could be scrapped if the devices don’t meet Apple’s standards.

Those standards may be the biggest thing holding an iPhone Flip back at this point. Unlike Samsung, Apple prefers to put its best product forward right out of the gate. First-generation devices may have compromises, but they’re deliberate ones that usually translate to the omission of features rather than a lack of quality. For example, the first iPhone lacked things like copy-and-paste and video recording, but it was still an elegant product, and what it did do, it did brilliantly well.

In the case of the iPhone Flip, Apple won’t cut corners on design and durability, and The Information notes that the industrial design team has been pushing for a phone that’s no thicker than current iPhone models when closed. That’s a tall order considering today’s battery and display technology.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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