Several recent reports have revealed that Apple has been ramping up its efforts to create its first folding iPhone, but while it’s apparent that a new design is coming, it looks like we may have to wait a bit longer than we had anticipated.
It’s not a surprise that Apple will take as much time as it needs to do something right, and this is especially true when introducing an entirely new product category, or even just a radically new design within an existing product lineup, and nowhere would this be more necessary than in the case of a folding iPhone.
After all, we’ve already seen some of the huge missteps that Apple’s rivals have taken in an effort to beat the iPhone to the punch. Early folding smartphones have been little more than prototypes that were simply released for public consumption. Meanwhile, Apple has continued to pursue a number of different angles for how to go about creating the first iPhone that will fold.
While several reports last year suggested that Apple would go with a dual-screen design, similar to the Microsoft Surface Duo, it seems that’s only one of several that it’s been testing, in recent months Apple has actually begun building several prototypes and putting them into early production testing to see how durable the different designs turn out to be.
In fact, things were moving so fast that it had us hoping that 2021 could be the year for a folding iPhone to arrive, but even though most analysts have pegged 2022 as a more realistic timeframe, it seems that we could even have to wait longer than that.
The good news, however, is that it looks like Apple may have decided on its final design concept from among its various prototypes, and it could be following Samsung’s lead in the style of the Galaxy Z Flip.
A Clamshell Foldable
The news comes via well-known leaker Jon Prosser and his YouTube channel Front Page Tech, where he explains that his sources have informed him that now that the first round of hinge testing has been completed as expected, Apple is putting all of its efforts into a clamshell iPhone that will resemble the Galaxy Z Flip, at least in concept.
Prosser doesn’t seem to have any specifics on why Apple is going in this direction; it’s likely that this was simply the design that fared best in the hinge tests, but Prosser also speculates that Apple’s partnership with Samsung for display technology might also have something to do with it.
According to Prosser, the folding iPhone is also expected to come in the same sort of “fun” colours as the iPhone XR, iPhone 11, and iPhone 12 models, which suggests Apple plans to target it to the wider consumer market. While Prosser suggests that this would be the exclusive domain of the folding iPhone, there’s no reason to assume that Apple isn’t also working on a folding iPhone Pro right now as well — especially this early in the game.
What’s particularly interesting about Prosser’s latest report is that he actually goes against the grain of reports that have suggested a foldable iPhone could be coming in 2022, saying that “it most certainly will not be next year.” Although he offers no thoughts on when it may actually appear, it’s a bit unusual for Prosser, who usually predicts timelines that are more optimistic than other analysts and leakers, which arguably lends some more credibility to the report.
That said, while there’s no doubt that Apple is working on a folding iPhone, it’s worth noting that Prosser has a somewhat checkered track record when it comes to actual Apple products. Most of his accurate predictions have centered around release dates — he nailed the arrival of the second-generation iPhone SE, 13-inch MacBook Pro refresh, and 27-inch iMac refresh last year, and had partially correct details about Apple’s September unveiling of the Apple Watch Series 6 and iPad Air. On the other hand, he also predicted that the AirPods Max (or “AirPods Studio” as he called them) would be arriving by last June, and would start at $350 for a cheaper “sport” model that never materialized at all.
Prosser has also had some other very questionable information on actual products, including sharing the idea that AirPower was going to be revived after being duped by a fake photo, plus the unbelievable suggestion that “Apple Glass” would be unveiled last fall along with a really crazy report of a “Steve Jobs Heritage Edition” of the spectacles.
However, while it’s fair to take this particular report with a healthy dose of salt right now, it does line up with other information we’ve been hearing. Apple has definitely been testing a clamshell design, among other prototypes, and it’s not a stretch to believe that this may be the design that gets the nod. However, it’s also very unlikely that Apple will follow too closely in the footsteps of its biggest smartphone rival, and just because the folding iPhone may feature a clamshell doesn’t mean that it’s going to look or work anything like the Galaxy Z Flip — in fact it’s safe to say that Apple will make an even better and cooler smartphone than that.