A Folding iPhone? We're Interested

Apple's no stranger to trying new things

Key Takeaways

  • Apple is working on a new foldable iPhone, according to leaks.
  • The folding iPhone is rumored to include a clamshell design reminiscent of older flip phones like the Motorola Razr.
  • If true, Apple could have a very appealing device that offers the functions of an iPhone in a device that’s easier to carry.
Conceptual design for a potential folding iPhone
Technizo Concept

With the iPhone still topping the sales charts, a foldable iPhone could be what’s needed to make flip phones more appealing.

Leaks and rumors about Apple’s work on a foldable iPhone have been popping up for months now. The latest information from well-known insider Jon Prosser seems to suggest that Apple not only has settled on a clamshell design reminiscent of old flip phones, but that the company also is considering multiple "fun" colors. If so, Apple could make the device more appealing to mainstream users, as opposed to going for a more expensive premium option like some competitors.

"Companies like Samsung, Motorola, and Huawei are already working on foldable designs," Waqar Ahmed, a marketing expert at Appstirr, told Lifewire in an email. "The major benefits of using [a] clamshell design is it improves screen protection while in your pocket, and makes the phone smaller when storing it."

To Flip or Not to Flip

It probably seems a little silly to see smartphones like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy transformed into the classic style of old flip phones, but the benefits are there for those who want to take advantage of them.

Not only does the flip-phone style give you a smaller device when it’s in your pocket, but it also means you don’t have to give up any of the larger-screen capacity just to be able to store it better. Phones like the iPhone SE and iPhone 12 mini offer smaller variants of the iPhone, but they also include smaller screen sizes. If you aren’t the type who wants to give up your screen real estate just to have a smaller device, then a clamshell folding phone might be another option.

The success of phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip also have shown that people are still interested in these types of devices. In March 2020—just after the Z Flip launched—the device garnered almost half a million sales. While that might not seem like much compared to the 350,000 units that the Galaxy S20 series sold in its first two weeks, for a new style that breaks away from the mainstream market, the Z Flip’s numbers are worth noting.

Finding Appeal

Another factor to keep in mind when discussing the folding iPhone is the overall appeal of Apple's devices within the smartphone user base. While Samsung’s Z Flip might not have seen the same amount of sales as the main Galaxy line, the number of people purchasing Apple devices is much larger.

"The success of phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip have also shown that people are still interested in these types of devices."

The appeal for smaller iPhones is also out there, which is evident thanks to the iPhone SE staking its claim as the second-best-selling smartphone of 2020. The iPhone 12 mini also made the list, coming in as one of the top 10 selling devices of the year. Yes, it’s true that many enjoy the larger phones, but that doesn’t mean the smaller devices have been ruled out completely. Not yet, at least.

You also have to take into account that many companies finally have begun phasing out support for 3G, which has pushed users to upgrade to smartphones they might not have purchased before. This is also another area where a clamshell design could be appealing to many, since it would fit the designs they’re used to, while also providing the capabilities of newer tech.

iPhone flip phone concept
LetsGo Digital

Apple is no stranger to trying new things, which is why these leaks and rumors aren’t all that surprising. Groups like ConceptsiPhone and LetsGoDigital already have started putting together renderings of what a folding iPhone could look like. If the final design is anything like those, the device could appeal to a great number of users who want to break away from the traditional smartphone design.

Of course, a folding iPhone is probably still years away, according to Prosser, and there’s always the chance the phone is canceled before it comes to store shelves.

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