Apple Is Reportedly Developing Prototypes for Foldable iPhones and iPad-Style Devices

Apple is currently hashing out prototypes for two foldable iPhones, according to a report from The Intelligence (via Business Insider). The development is still in the earliest stages, and knowledgeable sources say there’s a chance the products may never be made available to consumers.

According to the report, Apple has reached out to at least two separate companies with inquiries about sourcing parts for foldable iPhones in a variety of sizes. Gizmodo reported that the prototype is a clamshell-style device, and the idea is to model the display after Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip and the Motorola Razr+.

The company is reportedly considering a foldable iPad, as well. Former Apple employees revealed that Apple has been working with LG and Samsung to refine displays for folding iPads. Apple is hoping to jettison the worst part about foldable tablets, particularly their fragility and prominent crease.

In general, the company has worries regarding the fragility of folding devices. For that reason, it has debated whether or not folding phones are worth their long-term commitment. From reports, it seems that this prototype could be more exploratory, as the company gauges its feasibility, and the market appetite.

Nonetheless, Apple has been mulling the idea of folding devices for the best part of a decade. In 2016, the company was granted a patent for a folding phone. Cook first approached engineers with the idea in 2018. In 2020, they filed for a separate patent for a foldable device similar to an iPad which would leave part of the screen visible when closed, allowing viewers to see notifications and access other material.

In 2023, Bloomberg tech reporter Mark Gurman said he “wouldn’t anticipate [a foldable iPhone] launching in the near future. For now, the company is focused on larger foldable devices—something the size of a laptop.”

Gurman continued: “If Apple were to sell a foldable iPhone, the price would clearly be higher than that of its current models. Such a device would require far more advanced technology for batteries, displays, and chips.”

But the relatively recent resurgence of foldable phones may have prompted Apple to pursue the idea sooner than expected. Both Motorola and Samsung launched revised folding phones in 2019. In June of 2023 Google, Apple’s primary competitor along with Samsung, released their version of a folding phone.

Even if Apple brings their folding devices to market, it wouldn’t be for several more years. The company doesn’t list anything foldable on its docket for 2024 or 2025.