Foldable iPhone: News and Expected Price, Release Date, Specs; and More Rumors

Everything you need to know about the iPhone Flip

Merging an iPhone and an iPad into a double-wide phone is one way Apple could build an iPhone Flip, or maybe it would fold like the iconic Motorola Razr. These are definitely just rumors right now—and some analysts are predicting a foldable iPad first. Either way, the expectation of a foldable Apple device is gaining traction—just don’t expect one anytime soon.

foldable iphone concept
iPhone Fold concept.

Michal Dufka

When Will the Foldable iPhone Be Released?

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says Apple has explored a foldable iPhone in the past, but he doesn't anticipate one launching in the near future (as of early 2023).

One idea behind a flexible Apple device is an iPad that folds. However, rumors surrounding that device might be about an iPhone/iPad hybrid, possibly called iPhone Flip or iPhone Fold. Of course, nobody knows Apple's future plans for sure, and one analyst firm predicts Apple will launch a foldable iPad first, possibly by 2024.

Despite no official details from Apple, they've clearly been interested in a folding device of some kind for several years. Patents filed in 2011, 2014, June 2016, August 2016, 2018, and 2020 prove this, and there are probably others we've missed. Of course, this also shows that they haven't brought a foldable device to the market despite apparent interest.

There are various designs in those documents, and some of them are wildly different from the others (including a way to fold the device multiple ways). The plans could mean that they're referring to something different, like an e-reader or tablet, but they hint at what we could expect with this iPhone.

Foldable device illustration from patent US9504170B2
Patent US9504170B2.
Foldable device illustration from patent US8929085B2
Patent US8929085B2.
Foldable device illustration from patent US9504170B2
Patent US9504170B2.
Foldable device illustration from patent US10020462B1
Patent US10020462B1.
Foldable device illustration from patent US20180217639A1
Patent US20180217639A1.

Another patent filed in 2019 is for a device with a wrap-around display:

In the described embodiment, the flexible display assembly is configured to present visual content at any portion of the transparent housing.

Could it be worked into a foldable phone? We are eagerly waiting to see how/if they use these inventions.

Lifewire's Release Date Estimate

If any company is to perfect the tech behind a foldable phone, it’s Apple. Repeated testing and improvement are required, and fixing what other companies get wrong with foldable tech takes time. Based on insight from trustworthy leakers, we don’t expect a foldable iPhone until around 2025. The iPhone 15 will likely arrive first.

Foldable iPhone Price Rumors

It won’t be cheap. Phones are increasingly approaching or even exceeding $1,000. Just look at the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which retails for just over a grand. 

What happens when another screen is attached? If the Galaxy Fold is any indication, the price could jump to $2,000. Apple doesn’t have to follow suit, especially if they want to dominate sales for dual-screen lovers. Then again, Apple isn't a cheap brand.

They could shoot for a clean iPhone+iPad mini price by simply adding them together for a $1,400 phone. But considering how new this will be for Apple, they might hike the price a bit and put it closer toward that $2k price tag. Unless, of course, they compromise with less-expensive hardware or fewer advancements other than simply two (or three) screens.

However, if they opt for a clamshell design where the single screen splits in two, we could be looking at a much more affordable phone (but still more pricey than your typical iPhone). If the rumors are true that Apple will have two foldables, clamshell and vertical, expect various prices depending not only on storage and screen size, but also the fold type.

iPhone Fold concept
iPhone Fold concept.

Michal Dufka

Pre-Order Information

It's way too early to suggest a pre-order date, but we'll keep this updated as the launch nears.

Foldable iPhone Features

Over the years, as phones have gotten larger, we’ve enjoyed more screen real estate for things like reading, watching movies, playing games, and multitasking. A foldable phone is perfect for these activities.

That said, Apple is an innovator. Maybe they can make a version that works better than all the rest. Perhaps it won’t suffer from a visible crease down the middle where the screens fold over each other. Or, as this patent shows, a foldable Apple phone might use self-heating pixels to help avoid damage when folding. If it has a third screen when folded, maybe the refresh rate could be high enough that it'd be indistinguishable from the primary screens.

iOS, the software that runs the iPhone, could and should be revamped to support multiple displays. Don't expect it to function too differently than your typical, one-screen iPhone. Too much change would pull dedicated customers away. Apps will also need to support multiple screens for them to look great on a dual-screen iPhone. Otherwise, there's no point in the larger phone.

Given a larger phone could resemble a tablet, it makes sense that it would support the Apple Pencil. The latest version currently works only on a small selection of iPads, but expect a new version for the foldable iPhone (unless it's more of a flip phone than a tablet).

When it comes down to it, a foldable phone is beneficial purely for its bigger screen. Since this will be Apple’s first attempt at this kind of phone, it’d probably be the only significant change to the iPhone that year. Meaning: no stunningly new camera, massive storage capacity boost, etc. (though maybe a big battery boost).

Foldable iPhone Specs and Hardware

So how will the iPhone Flip work? It’s anyone’s guess, but there are a few options: one large, foldable screen like the Galaxy Fold; two separate screens that fold over a purposefully visible hinge like the Surface Duo; or three screens—two regular ones and a third for when the device is in its folded position.

Based on leaks, patents, and suggestions, it's looking more like we'll see a clamshell design, at least for the company's first foldable. This form factor would mean that the iPhone Flip would look like a typical phone from a distance, but would fold vertically like old-style flip phones and could include a small screen on the outside—similar to the Galaxy Z Flip.

Apple is reportedly testing multiple prototypes that contain foldable displays. It's possible they'll release two versions of the flip phone; a dual-screen one and a Z Flip lookalike. Some analysts think the first will be of the clamshell variety.

Here's an example of what a clamshell iPhone Flip could look like. The images and videos there, created by artist Michal Dufka, are stunning.

If it uses two full-size screens instead to resemble a tablet when unfolded, whether it will open backward on itself like the Duo is another question. If it does, we can only hope that it’d support running an app on both screens simultaneously. Maybe you could play the same video on both screens to watch a video with someone sitting across from you, or run two separate apps for something like local gameplay.

Here's ConceptsiPhone's rendering of a dual-screen "iPhone Fold":

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks we could see a screen as large as 8 inches. Omdia predicts the iPhone to be OLED and stand at 7.3–7.6” (the larger size would make it the same as the Galaxy Z Fold 2). The iPhone 14 Pro Max is 6.7,” and the 2021 iPad mini is 8.3”, so it would indeed be a phone-tablet mixture; a foldable phablet-style device.

Kuo has also revealed that Apple is testing color e-ink display tech that might be used as a second screen for a foldable device:

Space Gray and Silver are standard colors for Apple’s devices. We’ll probably see those same options for the iPhone Flip and possibly others that other iPhones support, like Graphite, Green, Product Red, Gold, and/or Sierra Blue.

All brand-new phones, including the latest iPads and iPhones, support 5G for faster data transfers on mobile connections. Expect the same for the foldable iPhone.

Bolstering things like the battery, processing power, and RAM will be a must to sustain multiple displays that could all independently multitask. Storage space might not change from the current iPhone lineup.

The Latest News About the Foldable iPhone

You can get more smartphone news from Lifewire. Here are some of the latest rumors we've found regarding the possibility of the iPhone Flip:

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