Although we still don’t have a release date for a possible Flip the iPhone — or even confirmation that a foldable Apple phone is even in the works — at least we have further proof that Apple is very interested in joining the growing market for foldable devices. The company just won patents related to foldables.
It’s the word of Apple obviously (opens in a new tab), which reported earlier this week that Apple had just been awarded two patents focused on foldable devices, noting that both could apply to foldable iPhones and iPads.
The first patent (opens in a new tab) is for an electronic device with a durable foldable screen, which could include sensors for fingerprint recognition and air gestures. The second patent is similar, but focuses on an electronic device with a foldable screen that has textured flex areas. This second patent (opens in a new tab) seems to focus more on display quality as it allows the combination of glass and a polymer to reduce glare.
Patents do not necessarily mean that product launches are imminent or even likely. But these patents give us a better look at what Apple thinks about future products, which could one day include something with a foldable screen.
iPhone Flip: what these patents could indicate
It should be noted that none of the patents state that these displays are specifically for a phone. These patents could therefore cover an iPad Duo as easily as an iPhone Flip. That said, there have already been indications that Apple is focusing on larger foldable displays, including a Potential 9-inch foldable iPhone.
Along with the patent filings, there have been plenty of rumors that Apple is considering the possibility of larger devices with foldable screens. MacRumors (opens in a new tab) reported that Display Supply Chain Consultants analyst Ross Young believes Apple is working on a potential 20-inch foldable laptop. In that same article, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman suggested that Apple is working on larger-screen iPads, which could indicate that this foldable laptop is actually a foldable iPad.
The inclusion of sensors ranging from fingerprint recognition to health sensors indicates that these latest patents were definitely created with smartphones in mind. While tablets like the iPad can certainly have these sensors as well, these are features we now look for in the latest smartphones. Most likely, these patents will be involved in the creation of any foldable device produced by Apple.
iPhone Flip: when to expect it
If an iPhone Flip is in the works, it might not be arriving anytime soon. While Young has said a foldable iPhone could arrive as soon as next year, the general consensus is that an iPhone Flip will appear in 2024. Some analysts, like Ming-Chi Kuo, expect an even later launch in 2025.
The bottom line? Even with Apple racking up patents on foldable devices, don’t expect the company to compete with the best foldable phones. This category remains dominated by Samsung, which is expected to roll out two new foldables – the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 as early as next month.