It looks like Apple is set to jump on the foldable phones bandwagon with an upcoming new iPhone that could be announced in less than a year, and make its debut within a year and a half.
The report comes from an interview with William LaCourse, a professor of glass science at Alfred University, as well as information provided from Corning, the company who supplies Apple with the sturdy Gorilla Glass for its iPhones.
Corning says it's "actively developing...glass-based products" for foldable devices which it says will be on the market "within the next 12 to 18 months." If it's developing foldable Gorilla Glass, Apple could very well be using the technology in an upcoming iPhone - something LaCourse agrees with. He speculates that based on a launch in 12-18 months, we're "less than a year away from an announcement" of a foldabe device from Apple.
Samsung was the first to market with a foldable smartphone but botched the job in its haste, resulting in the slew of problems that the Galaxy Fold contended with, like a peeling screen and hinge issues.
Since then, Huawei has launched its Mate X in China and has confirmed that it's bringing its improved iteration of the handset, the Mate Xs to the west. Motorola's clamshell foldable, the Razr, has also made its debut at long last, while Samsung has followed suit with a second foldable, also utilising the clamshell form factor, with its Galaxy Z Flip that was announced at Unpacked this month and is already on the market.
What will Apple's attempt at a foldable phone look like? Will it do a compact clamshell, or a the more bookish design? Concept designer Antonio De Rosa mocked up a folding smartphone and Apple-style ad for YouTube channel ConceptsiPhone and it looks pretty swish, if a little boring by now. Take a look:
LaCourse thinks Apple may skip foldable iPhones altogether and jump straight to a larger device, like a tablet, to avoid running into the problems that are still plaguing foldables even now, as demonstrated in these teardown videos of the Razr and Galaxy Z Flip. When not constricted to something as small as a smartphone, the glass can be thicker, meaning the folding area will be more robust.
Whatever its plan, Apple will need to put its own unique stamp on its foldable device and deliver on performance and durability so that it has something more than a novelty that falls apart if you look at it funny. The company has filed patents for wraparound screen concepts before, so we're excited to see what it brings to the table.