Last Updated on February 9, 2024 by Larious
Apple is reportedly developing prototypes of an iPhone in a clamshell design, which could bring the most significant hardware design changes in the product’s history.
Apple Is Developing Foldable Clamshell iPhones: Report
According to a new report by The Information, which cited a person familiar with the matter, said that the Cupertino giant is supposedly building “at least two” prototypes of iPhones that fold horizontally, bearing a resemblance to a clamshell design. These devices appear similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip, which allows screens to fold horizontally.
Further, the report stated that the foldable iPhones are not reportedly on the company’s mass production plans for 2024 or 2025, as they are still in the early phases of development.
Although the company is keen to build a foldable iPhone with displays on the outside of the device, The Information says engineers “struggled” with the smartphone’s design, given that it can break easily.
In addition, the engineers also reportedly want to develop a foldable device that is “as thin as the current iPhone models,” but the battery sizes and display components make it difficult for the engineers to achieve this goal.
Recently, Apple contacted at least one manufacturer in Asia for components related to a foldable iPhone in two different sizes. However, the report added that the final product may get canceled if the project does not meet Apple’s design standards.
Sources told The Information that Apple has been considering developing foldable iPhones and iPads for over a decade. In 2018, the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, even proposed the idea of foldable devices with his engineers. However, the high retail cost and the need for compelling features in the foldable device deterred the company from going all-in for foldable devices.
In 2020, Apple engineers paused work on a foldable iPhone and redirected its focus towards developing a foldable iPad about the size of an iPad mini with an eight-inch display. Due to its larger form factor, the iPad is considered more feasible and faces less harsh durability conditions than the iPhone.
Apple engineers working on the iPad project are currently aiming to build a hinge that allows the display to lie flat when unfolded and reduce the crease that appears in the center of the display.
While it is uncertain when Apple will release a folding iPad, a recent report from the Korean outlet The Elec suggests that the company is developing a foldable device with a display size of around 7-8″ by 2026 or 2027.