In this week’s Apple Core rundown, we’ll take a look at how Apple fits into the foldable phone trend and the hurdles it has to clear to make an iPhone bend. We’ll also learn about the latest health feature rumored to be coming to the Apple Watch, and the 10 winning pics from Apple’s Shot on iPhone Challenge photography contest have been revealed.
Will Apple launch a foldable iPhone?
The foldable phone trend has taken 2019 by storm, with companies such as Samsung, Huawei and FlexPai unveiling the bendable devices that will soon be in consumers’ hands. The verdict is still out on whether these foldables represent the future of smartphones, but if it is, acan’t be too far behind.
There’s been plenty of evidence that Apple is interested in making a foldable phone. The company has foldable phone patents that date back to 2011, with blueprints for a hinged phone that can bend in half similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Apple even got its first patent for a foldable device approved in 2014, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This year Apple registered what seems to be an extension of those original designs, with more details that show the device folding out as well as in. But Apple may choose to take it a step further. Another patent discovered by My Smart Price shows a flexible device with a wraparound display that can take different shapes. And in case you’re having a hard time picturing a bendable iPhone, Dutch industrial designer Roy Gilsing created some pretty realistic renders published in Foldable.News that show what this could look like.
Still, there are a few hurdles the company has to clear before a foldable iPhone becomes a reality.
The first and perhaps the most important one is Apple’s screen issue. It’s no secret that Apple relies on Samsung for some of the OLED screens for its newer iPhones. According to Goldman Sachs analysts cited in Business Insider, Samsung is not willing to share its foldable screen tech just yet, especially not with its biggest rival.
In the meantime, Apple has reportedly chosen LG as a secondary screen manufacturer, a company that has also been experimenting with foldable screen technology for TVs, but it may be a few years behind Samsung when it comes to phones.
Then there’s the issue with materials. Most of the foldables phones announced so far use some kind of polymer blend to cover their screens, aka plastic. But given Apple’s long-standing relationship with glass-maker Corning, it’s doubtful the company would cover its screens with plastic, even if it means waiting until the company can develop a bendable glass solution to fit their needs. Based on, we know the company has already developed bendable glass, but it still cant fold completely in half like the plastic on some of these other devices coming to the market.
And lastly, there’s the user experience. It’s unlikely Apple would choose to launch a foldable iPhone unless the software was in place to support it. This means the company would first have to open up the platform to developers to start envisioning what this foldable experience would look like on an iPhone.
All this to say, we’re not getting a foldable iPhone in 2019. Some say 2020 could be an option, but even that seems like a stretch given these limitations. Apple will inevitably be late to the bendable phone game, but it may not be that bad. Our own Roger Cheng pointed out in his commentary that foldable phones right now are a bit of a tease, with hefty price tags, limited availability and potentially buggy software.