Apple’s prototypes could be the iPhone Flip and iPad Fold

Apple’s prototypes could be the iPhone Flip and iPad Fold

Apple's iPhone Flip and iPad Fold

Apple’s much-rumoured folding iPhone is still very much in development, a new report says – and the current prototype is a clamshell design similar to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. The report follows hot on the heels of the news that Apple is also prototyping a larger, iPad-sized folding device of around seven to eight inches. The iPhone Flip and iPad Fold may not be the devices we end up seeing in the Apple Store, but they’re both apparently in Apple’s labs.

The latest folding iPhone report comes via The Information (paywall), which cites a source with “direct knowledge of the situation”. The iPhone model currently being prototyped is a clamshell design and it’s one of two similar folding iPhone prototypes; however both are very early development models and are not planned for production any time soon, if at all.

For now Apple is holding ’em rather than folding ’em

The Information says that Apple has been exploring foldable phones since 2018, but that the project may still be cancelled if Apple can’t make the device meet its exacting standards. The goal is to create a device half the thickness of the iPhone 15 so that it’s not like holding a brick when you fold it.

Apple’s team has apparently experimented with external displays – Samsung style – as well as the folding main display. However the engineering team has apparently encountered the same problems as other folding phone makers: it’s difficult to deliver decently sized displays and decently large batteries without also making a thick phone.

That adds weight to the frequent rumour – repeated by The Information, which says Apple paused its folding iPhone development in 2020 to focus on the iPad instead – that Apple’s first foldable will be an iPad, where there’s more room for those crucial components. As we reported yesterday, there are many benefits of an iPad-first approach: iPadOS is better suited to such a device, whereas iOS would need to be optimised for a very different display; size is less of a concern; and there are already lots of iPad-optimised apps.

Whatever foldable Apple intends to release, don’t expect to see it this year: The Information says there will definitely not be a folding iPhone this year or next, and reports of a folding iPad have suggested that it won’t launch until 2026 or possibly later.

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