Let’s Flip Open the Details on Apple’s First Foldable Phone, Shall We?

First foldable iPhone

Rumours are swirling this week that Apple may soon release its first foldable iPhone. A patent application by Apple, seen by Business Insider, dated March 16, 2023, shows the tech giant is looking for ways to prevent the potential new flip phone’s screen from damage if it was dropped.

Called “Self-retracting display device and techniques for protecting screen using drop detection”, according to Insider, the patent application has over 30 photos to depict how the proposed technology would work. In it, Apple explains that a fall detector would trigger a release mechanism to “automatically retract the foldable display”.

The application goes on to say that “even folding the display to an angle less [than] 180 degrees can afford some protection because the mobile device can strike edges of the mobile device instead of the display itself”.

Apple foldable iphone
Image: US Patent and Trademark Office

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It’s long been thought that Apple was working on a foldable phone although the famously secretive company has never commented on the speculation. Apple has, however, filed various public patent applications that show what the foldable device could look like. One design had a protrusion near the top so the camera could be accessed without unfolding it.

In October 2022, analyst firm CCS Insight reported it thought Apple was more likely to launch an iPad with a folding screen than a foldable iPhone in 2024.

“Right now it doesn’t make sense for Apple to make a foldable iPhone,” Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight told CNBC at the time.

“We think they shun that trend and probably dip a toe in the water with a foldable iPad. A folding iPhone will be super high risk for Apple. Firstly, it would have to be incredibly expensive in order to not cannibalise the existing iPhones.”

Wood went on to predict that a foldable iPhone would likely cost around USD$2,500. To give you an idea of how pricey that it is, Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Max with the largest storage is still only USD$1,599.

Apple usually announces its new iPhone line-up in September and, given there wasn’t too much of a difference last year between iPhone 13 and iPhone 14, here’s to hoping this time it’ll shake things up.

We have reached out to Apple for comment.

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