Bank of America Analyst Says Apple Plans to Launch Foldable iPhone in 2020

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Apple plans to launch a foldable iPhone two years from now, according to Wamsi Mohan, an analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

A fan-made foldable iPhone concept

Mohan shared his prediction in a research note obtained by CNBC after spending a week in Asia meeting with companies in Apple's supply chain. He expects the foldable iPhone will launch in 2020 and said it could potentially "double up as a tablet," suggesting the device could expand to have an iPad-like form factor.

This isn't the first time we've heard this rumor. Back in December 2016, a Korean report said LG Display was developing and mass-producing foldable displays for smartphones. And, as of October 2017, it appears that LG Display has reached an agreement to supply Apple with its foldable displays for future iPhones.

LG has shown off various futuristic-looking curved and foldable display prototypes over the past three years, including one with a book-like design and another that can be rolled up like a newspaper. Both designs take advantage of the flexible property of OLED displays, compared to rigid LCD screens.

For that reason, the iPhone X is a good start on the path towards a foldable iPhone, should one ever materialize.

While not visible, the iPhone X actually has a flexible OLED display that curves behind itself on the inside of the device. The curved portion houses the display controller chip, and this clever engineering feat allows the iPhone X to have a slimmer bottom bezel, which is normally where the chip is located.

iPhone X's flexible OLED display

A foldable iPhone would require further innovation. If the device can be rolled up like a newspaper, then components like the logic board and battery would need to be flexible enough to bend rather than buckle. But if it only folds in half, then components could still be rigid and connected with flex cables.

Apple applied for a foldable display patent last year and is likely researching ways to create a foldable iPhone, but that doesn't guarantee we'll ever see a consumer-facing product. 2020 might be an overly ambitious timeframe, too, but technology can change a lot in two years, so we'll have to wait and see.

Article Link: Bank of America Analyst Says Apple Plans to Launch Foldable iPhone in 2020
 
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deanthedev

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Sep 29, 2017
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No. One of the best things about newer iPads was when they went to the laminated displays. People like solid feeling devices when you use them (and on a touch screen this means lots of tapping). I don't believe you can have a foldable device that also provides this solid feel (I think they will feel flimsy/cheap).
 

yesjam

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Jun 6, 2014
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The flip phone in itself is a great concept. Minimize the device's footprint when closed; provide the user with an external display that shows notifications and other important data; and maintain a solid and ergonomic form-factor when open.

This idea could translate magnificently to touch-screen devices. A smaller, always-on OLED screen in sapphire crystal on the front of the device when the clamshell is closed; a gigantic non-sapphire screen when the clamshell is open. Make both touch-compatible and allow users to do basic tasks when the phone is closed like they can currently do on the Apple Watch and you have a winner.

A clamshell form factor also has the added benefits of protecting the large internal screen at all times, minimizing "phone fatigue" by having users be able to perform many if not most tasks without engaging the large display, and providing that satisfying "slap" sound when you hang up the phone :)

This would represent IMO the greatest leap forward for smartphones since the introduction of the iPhone 11 years ago.
 

iReality85

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Apr 29, 2008
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OLED is such an amazing product, despite some of its drawbacks. LG is even making lamps out of OLED which can double as speakers, since the extreme thinness of OLED panels can be used as speaker diaphragms.

I can totally see a fully foldable OLED phone with a full-screen speaker. Yes, full-screen. It will happen, because LG and Sony can already do this. Maybe not in 2 years, but within 5 this audio tech will likely show up in phones. Combined with moving the cameras and sensors underneath the screen, we'll finally, truly, have full screen phones. No notches, no bezels. Just pure screen.
 
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yesjam

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Jun 6, 2014
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Foldable iPhone? This doesn't sound like the Apple I know. Of all the manufacturers, Apple would be the last company, if that, who I'd think of developing a foldable phone. Is there even a market for this?
Speaking for myself, I would buy the hell out of a clamshell iPhone like the rendering in the OP
 

elmaco

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Jun 5, 2012
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If they make it bendable, I hope they don't do it as the picture suggest. What would be the purpose?

It should be foldable in the other direction, so it can become wider and more like an iPad. Preferably with a screen on the back as well, so you can have the same behaviour as today without unfolding it.
 
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