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Bank of America Analyst Says Apple Plans to Launch Foldable iPhone in 2020

Apple plans to launch a foldable iPhone two years from now, according to Wamsi Mohan, an analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

A fan-made foldable iPhone concept

Mohan shared his prediction in a research note obtained by CNBC after spending a week in Asia meeting with companies in Apple's supply chain. He expects the foldable iPhone will launch in 2020 and said it could potentially "double up as a tablet," suggesting the device could expand to have an iPad-like form factor.

This isn't the first time we've heard this rumor. Back in December 2016, a Korean report said LG Display was developing and mass-producing foldable displays for smartphones. And, as of October 2017, it appears that LG Display has reached an agreement to supply Apple with its foldable displays for future iPhones.

LG has shown off various futuristic-looking curved and foldable display prototypes over the past three years, including one with a book-like design and another that can be rolled up like a newspaper. Both designs take advantage of the flexible property of OLED displays, compared to rigid LCD screens.

For that reason, the iPhone X is a good start on the path towards a foldable iPhone, should one ever materialize.

While not visible, the iPhone X actually has a flexible OLED display that curves behind itself on the inside of the device. The curved portion houses the display controller chip, and this clever engineering feat allows the iPhone X to have a slimmer bottom bezel, which is normally where the chip is located.

iPhone X's flexible OLED display

A foldable iPhone would require further innovation. If the device can be rolled up like a newspaper, then components like the logic board and battery would need to be flexible enough to bend rather than buckle. But if it only folds in half, then components could still be rigid and connected with flex cables.

Apple applied for a foldable display patent last year and is likely researching ways to create a foldable iPhone, but that doesn't guarantee we'll ever see a consumer-facing product. 2020 might be an overly ambitious timeframe, too, but technology can change a lot in two years, so we'll have to wait and see.



Top Rated Comments

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8 months ago
Not going to happen!
Rating: 13 Votes
8 months ago
I need to get a job as an "analyst".
Rating: 10 Votes
8 months ago
In other words, it's the reboot of the flip-phone.

And it will be interesting to watch techie boyz square that circle.
Rating: 10 Votes
8 months ago
It's going to be a hard choice for me. Get the new clamshell iPhone, or make my mortgage payment for the month. Decisions, decisions...
Rating: 10 Votes
8 months ago
So the iPhone 6/6 plus bending was a prototype test!
Rating: 10 Votes
8 months ago
A lot of Debbie Downers here on MR......where is your vision? Why the cynicism? More choices for us, the consumer. It could be neat, or it could be not. Who knows? People complain about Apple not being "innovative" and when something like this comes out, everyone scoffs at it like is a pie in the sky....
Rating: 9 Votes
8 months ago
Cool demo, but not very useful if at all.
Rating: 7 Votes
8 months ago
The flip phone in itself is a great concept. Minimize the device's footprint when closed; provide the user with an external display that shows notifications and other important data; and maintain a solid and ergonomic form-factor when open.

This idea could translate magnificently to touch-screen devices. A smaller, always-on OLED screen in sapphire crystal on the front of the device when the clamshell is closed; a gigantic non-sapphire screen when the clamshell is open. Make both touch-compatible and allow users to do basic tasks when the phone is closed like they can currently do on the Apple Watch and you have a winner.

A clamshell form factor also has the added benefits of protecting the large internal screen at all times, minimizing "phone fatigue" by having users be able to perform many if not most tasks without engaging the large display, and providing that satisfying "slap" sound when you hang up the phone :)

This would represent IMO the greatest leap forward for smartphones since the introduction of the iPhone 11 years ago.
Rating: 6 Votes
8 months ago
Revenge of the flip phone......
Rating: 6 Votes
8 months ago
What, exactly is the value proposition of this? Ignoring that it seems very unlikely to happen technologically (especially by 2020), I am at a loss as to why anyone would want it.
Rating: 5 Votes

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