Apple is working on a folding iPhone. At least, that’s the suggestion from a series of patents the firm has filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The tech giant has posted no fewer than 24 images detailing the mechanics of a folding iPhone. And like other folding phones and concepts we've seen, it seems it'll take the form of a tablet-smartphone hybrid.
The phone would fold in half along the width of the screen in order to dramatically reduce its size. This would allow it to work as a tablet that folds down to be a pocket-sized phone.
Some of the designs show the screen on the outside of the device, while others show it on the inside. It’s clear Apple is hedging its bets on whichever design it eventually plumps for.
Some of the pictures show the screen having two hinges, making it fold down into three sections. With enough hinges, the phone could be rolled up into a tube, like a scroll of paper.
Apple isn’t the only company eyeing up a folding phone. Samsung has given us a couple of glimpses of its Galaxy Fold folding smartphone, which is expected to be officially unveiled tonight alongside the Galaxy S10. You can see it in the promo video at the top of this story.
LG and Huawei are also working on folding smartphones. These – and folding handsets from other manufacturers – are expected to launch at the Mobile World Congress trade show, which takes place next week.
But don’t expect a folding iPhone any time soon. This kind of tech is still in its infancy, and Apple is notorious for not adopting new tech use for its sake – it prefers to work on it and perfect it as much as possible before launching.
Therefore when it does adopt a new technology – such as wireless charging, fingerprint scanners and facial recognition unlocking – you can be sure it’s about to go mainstream.
It could also be a red herring. Apple patents plenty of designs in case it ever adopts them in the future. So this patent is no guarantee that it will ever launch a folding iPhone.
This year’s iPhone is expected to launch in September, in keeping with Apple’s release cycle. It’s expected to be able to charge another device wirelessly just by placing the phone on top of the iPhone’s back. Again, Apple isn’t the first with this tech – the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, which launched at the end of last year, already boasts the feature.
The iPhone 11 is also expected to have a frosted glass back, and three rear cameras for more advanced photography modes.
However, it’s not thought to have 5G. Apple is rumoured to only launch that feature on next year’s iPhones.
Let's Go Digital