While it's being rumored by The Information tech site today that Apple is developing a foldable iPhone, the reality is that Apple has been filing patents for such a foldable device since 2019. This patent was granted to Apple in February 2021. Apple filed for a second patent on a clamshell styled iPhone back in May 2021. Yet a clamshell-styled iPhone only plays a very small part of Apple's foldable patent portfolio.
The Information reports that "The foldable iPhones are in early development and are not on the company's mass production plans for 2024 or 2025, according to the report.
Apple recently approached at least one manufacturer in Asia for components related to two foldable iPhones of different sizes."
In mid-December 2023 Patently Apple posted a report titled "Samsung is organizing a new team for developing Foldable Devices like a hybrid tablet-notebook for Apple." That report focused on a 20+ inch foldable iPad.
Last Friday, Patently Apple posted a report titled "A new Supply Chain report claims that Apple may be considering a foldable iPad mini as their first foldable device." The report noted "that Apple is considering releasing a foldable device in the 7 to 8-inch range, which would point to a foldable iPad mini. The product launch is expected as early as 2026-2027."
At present, the recent supply chain rumors regarding possible foldable devices from Apple seem to hold more water than the one posted by The Information today.
A clamshell-styled iPhone could be seen as an inferior product to compete with larger foldable smartphones from their competitors Huawei, OPPO, vivo, Xiaomi and others.
And yet, due to price, the Samsung Z Flip is more popular than the Galaxy Z Fold model. Well, at least it was the case back in September 2022.
With pricing for full sized foldable smartphones falling every year, a full sized foldable in the not-too-distant future from Apple would be considered the next tier of premium iPhones that would justify higher iPhone pricing.
Logically, a clamshell based iPhone seems to be a losing proposition for Apple unless it's their way of tippy-toeing into the foldable devices segment of the market to challenge Samsung's Z Flip.
In the end, I could see some form of foldable iPad device coming to market in an effort to reignite iPad sales that have been dropping for some time – more than introducing a clamshell-styled iPhone.
What are your thoughts on an a possible Apple clamshell iPhone? Send in your comments below or on our Twitter feed.