Samsung unveiled its first foldable smartphone way back in 2019, and has continued releasing new models every year since then. Other companies like Google, LG, Motorola, and Huawei have also followed in Samsung's footsteps, so there are multiple Android-based foldable smartphones to choose from.

Foldable iPhone 2023 Feature Blue
Apple has not yet introduced a foldable device, and while there are rumors that Apple is exploring foldable technology, there is no sign of a foldable iPhone coming in the immediate future. Apple's first foldable isn't expected to be an iPhone, in fact, and we'll likely see a foldable iPad-like device first.

Samsung makes its foldable smartphones two ways, with the phone-to-tablet Galaxy Fold that opens like a book, and the smaller flip-up Galaxy Flip Z.

Most foldables on the market have the book-style folding mechanism, and as Apple waits to debut a foldable device, Android smartphone makers are getting better and better at hinges, crease-free foldable displays, and more. Samsung is on its fifth-generation foldables, but Apple still has not yet introduced a foldable device.

galaxy z fold5 open

Galaxy Z Fold 5

No foldable is perfect as of yet and there are still some issues with pricing and durability, but foldable smartphones are a growing trend. There are some rumors that Apple is investigating foldable iPhones and other devices, but we haven't heard anything concrete yet.

Foldable iPhone Rumors

The first hints of a foldable ‌iPhone‌ surfaced in 2016 when rumors suggested LG Display would be mass producing foldable displays for smartphones in 2018 and supplying them to companies like Apple and Google, but LG clearly did not end up supplying foldable displays to Apple at that time because no folding ‌iPhone‌ materialized.

A 2017 rumor kept the folding ‌iPhone‌ concept alive, indicating Apple was partnering up with LG to develop an ‌iPhone‌ with a foldable display. LG has a number of foldable display prototypes that use flexible OLED panels, including one that folds over like a book and a second that rolls up like a newspaper, and LG has been refining its technology every year.

lgfoldabledisplay

Another foldable display concept from LG

Rumors in 2019 suggested that Samsung offered to supply foldable displays to Apple, and Apple supplier Corning was rumored to be working on a foldable glass solution that Apple might adopt.

In September 2020, rumors indicated that Samsung was providing foldable display samples to Apple for a future foldable ‌iPhone‌, but years later, there is no indication that Apple is planning to use Samsung's technology.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often has reliable insight into Apple's plans, said in 2021 that development on a foldable ‌iPhone‌ had not yet kicked off, but he later claimed that Apple experimented with an 8-inch foldable iPhone with a flexible OLED display and a 9-inch foldable device.

In 2021, Bloomberg claimed that Apple had started "early work" on an ‌iPhone‌ with a foldable display, but that it had not committed to releasing a foldable device at that time. Development in 2021 had not expanded beyond a display, and Apple did not have full foldable ‌iPhone‌ prototypes.

In 2024, The Information said that Apple has built two foldable iPhone prototypes with a clamshell design that folds widthwise. The devices are in early development, but Apple has approached at least one supplier in Asia for components related to two foldable ‌iPhone‌ models in different sizes.

Analyst Jeff Pu has suggested Apple could begin mass production on a foldable ‌iPhone‌ as soon as late 2026, perhaps introducing two foldable devices in different sizes: 7.9 inches and 8.3 inches. Apple could also opt for a single foldable ‌iPhone‌, choosing just one display size.

Foldable iPhone Prototypes and Design Rumors

Apple has allegedly discussed several foldable screen sizes, including one that unfolds to a size similar to the 6.7-inch display on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and others in the 8 to 9 inch range. Apple's designs are said to have a "mostly invisible hinge" with electronics located behind the display rather than two panels separated by a visible hinge.

In December 2020, a rumor from the Asian supply chain suggested that two of Apple's foldable ‌iPhone‌ prototypes had passed internal testing for durability, but nothing came of that information. Apple was allegedly testing two different foldable ‌iPhone‌ designs at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China. One of these is said to be a dual-screen model with two separate displays connected by a hinge, while the other is a foldable ‌iPhone‌ with a clamshell design similar to the Galaxy Z Flip.

The test devices have been described as shells with limited internals and not fully functional iPhones, and it continues to be unclear if this is a product that will make it to launch. The Information has also claimed that Apple is working on a clamshell-style design that is similar to the folding mechanism of the Galaxy Z Flip.

Foldable iPhone Patents

Apple patents all kinds of things that never become finished products so patents aren't necessarily a reliable way to predict what's in development, but Apple has a few foldable ‌iPhone‌ patents.

19104 19023 161122 Folding l
Apple's first foldable iPhone patent surfaced in 2016, describing a smartphone that folds in half horizontally using a flexible OLED display and a hinged metal support structure. Both halves of the display remain accessible when the phone is shut, and there are also drawings depicting devices with multiple folds.

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A 2019 patent application describes foldable smartphone with a built-in heating element or display heating feature to cut down on failures at the fold in cold temperatures, a problem that has the potential to impact foldable smartphones.

apple foldable smartphone heating patent
Apple in February 2020 was granted a patent for a foldable device with a hinge mechanism that utilizes movable flaps to help prevent the display from being creased or damaged when folded.

The hinge mechanism is designed to ensure adequate separation between the first and second parts of the display. When the device is unfolded, movable flaps extend to cover the gap, and then retract when the device is folded.

An Apple patent granted in March describes a unique alternative to a foldable ‌iPhone‌, explaining a system that would allow two or more devices to act as one when brought close to each other through the use of proximity sensors.

apple patent bendable device separate displays

The patent envisions two separate devices that automatically detect one another when placed together with a shared display. The wording of the patent seems to suggest that Apple could create a single bendable device comprised of two displays in seamless communication with each other.

A 2020 patent filing suggests Apple is exploring a protective layer for a foldable ‌iPhone‌ that would resist cracking. The ‌iPhone‌ would feature a hardcoat layer that would fill pre-existing micro-cracks to make it harder for a larger crack to appear.

apple foldable display layer 2
The extra layer would be placed directly on top of the display and would resist punctures and scratches.

apple foldable display layer 1

What Will Apple's Foldable iPhone Look Like?

With no concrete rumors about a foldable ‌iPhone‌ in the works, there's no word on what form a foldable device might take.

As reference examples, we've seen foldable smartphones that fold horizontally both inwards and outwards from Samsung and Huawei, plus Samsung makes a version that folds down vertically.

foldable iphone
We don't know what Apple's foldable smartphone might look like until it's further along in development, but there is allegedly a prototype being worked on that features two displays connected by a hinge and other prototypes with a clamshell-style fold.

When Will Apple Launch a Foldable iPhone?

According to The Information, Apple has no plans to launch a foldable ‌iPhone‌ until at least 2026.

foldable iphone
Apple analyst ‌Ming-Chi Kuo‌ said in 2021 that Apple would introduce the first foldable ‌iPhone‌ in 2025 or later, and display analyst Ross Young said in 2022 Apple had delayed its foldable iPhone until 2025. Neither of these predictions seem accurate at this point, with very little known about Apple's work on foldables. A 2024 rumor has suggested that the foldable phone has been delayed until 2027, and that it might be canceled completely.

Analyst Jeff Pu believes that a foldable ‌iPhone‌ could come out as soon as late 2026.

A rumor out of China has suggested that Apple suspended development on a foldable ‌iPhone‌ after supplier displays failed to meet Apple's standards. Foldable panels from Samsung are said to have broken down "after a few days," leading to the project being paused. It is not clear if this information is accurate as it comes from a source without a known rumor track record.

Other Foldable Apple Devices

Along with a foldable ‌iPhone‌, rumors suggest that Apple is exploring other foldable devices, including iPads and MacBooks that have foldable OLED displays. Apple is likely going to unveil some kind of foldable iPad or MacBook before it ever comes out with a foldable ‌iPhone‌.

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Apple is said to be working with LG to create ultra-thin foldable cover glass for future Macs and iPads.

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