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Folding iPhone prototypes – but will they ever come to market?

We’ve reported on rumors about folding iPhones before. This time last year we learned from a leak that two prototypes made it through internal durability testing, and a few months later Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested the company was on track to sell 15-20 million folding iPhones in 2023.

But the latest reports, again revealed by a well-known leaker, claim that although Apple is still developing such a device, it’s not planning to release one any time soon.

That’s because the technology isn’t yet perfect and Apple doesn’t want to make any compromises in its design. Although several Android vendors have already released folding smartphones, Apple reportedly doesn’t think they’re up to scratch – or that there’s a wide enough market for such a unique format just yet.

Here’s what the leaker @Dylandkt has to say:

“While other manufactures are iterating on products that are seemingly in beta, Apple is keen on making sure that the design is not a regression from the current form factor of the iPhone. They are interested in playing the long game to see how the technology progresses.”

Primarily, the worry would be about durability. Flexible displays and hinged screens are more complex than regular smartphones, with more moving parts and more things that could go wrong. Apple is clearly not happy with how the current batch of test units holds up to wear and tear.

As for the benefits of a folding iPhone? You’d essentially have an iPad mini and an iPhone in one single device. Twice the screen area when you need it, but a smaller footprint that still fits in your pocket. Whether that would be worth it for the inevitable increase in weight and bulkiness is anyone’s guess.

Although you should take any leaks with a grain of salt, this one rings true to us. Apple is known for having a lot of projects and ideas running through research and development at any one time, but it’s also known for biding its time with new product releases rather than rushing to market.

It may be that we never see a folding iPhone, but at the very least, we’d now expect it to be later than 2023 if Apple does crack the formula.