The iPhone may soon be available as a flip phone.
Apple has developed at least two prototypes of its bestselling smartphone that folds like a clamshell, according to tech news site The Information.
The foldable version is reportedly in the early stages of development and wouldn’t be available to Apple consumers until 2026 at the earliest.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant has been in talks with at least one manufacturer in Asia over which components to use for the two foldable iPhones, The Information reported.
If the prototype doesn’t meet Apple’s standards, the project will be scrapped entirely, according to the report.
The Post has sought comment from Apple.
Last summer, Samsung rolled out two foldable smartphones — the Galaxy Flip 5 and Galaxy Z Fold 5 — which feature more advanced cameras, crisper visuals and more features for work, text and video chats.
But the high price point — Flip 5 sells for around $1,000 while the Fold 5 costs some $1,800 in the US — makes it out of reach for a large chunk of consumers.
According to Counterpoint, a technology market research firm, global shipments of foldable phones will approach 19 million units in 2023, which would mark a 45% increase from 2022, mainly fueled by rising consumer demands in China.
Apple has considered foldable iPhones and iPads for more than a decade but the company’s leadership hasn’t fully committed to the idea, sources told The Information.
Tim Cook, the company’s CEO, broached the idea of foldable devices with his engineers in 2018, the report stated.
Sources told The Information that the company has been hesitant to go all-in on foldable devices due to the high retail cost as well as the lack of compelling features that would make the consumer want to buy one.
Former Apple employees told The Information that the company has been working with Samsung and another Korean tech giant, LG, on a prototype for a foldable iPad.
In 2020, Apple engineers abandoned work on a foldable iPhone and instead focused on a folding iPad that would be similar in size to an iPad Mini.
A foldable iPad is considered more feasible since it would be thicker than a foldable iPhone and it would not need to pass the drop tests that are required of iPhones.
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