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Why is Apple not making a foldable iPhone yet?

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This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Why is Apple not making a foldable iPhone yet?
If we can say anything positive about the year 2020, it's that we saw a boom in unique new smartphone form factors and phone innovation attempts in general. From the improved Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 foldable smartphone, to the dual-screen Microsoft Surface Duo and LG Wing phones, which on their own are vastly different in how they approach the idea of having dual displays. We can't say phone designs have been boring these days.

We also saw enough leaks and rumors to suggest that 2021 may be the year of the rollable smartphone, with phones such as the upcoming LG Rollable possibly taking over the folding market, if they prove to be superior in design and convenience.


And while all that was going on, Apple released the iPhone 12 series, which feature a fairly standard form factor and a flat design many of us really like, but we already saw from Apple all the way back in 2010, on the iPhone 4. Cool, but not exactly cutting edge. Is the Cupertino company playing it safe again? Why hasn't Apple released a folding iPhone yet? Let's try to figure this out.

Folding smartphone technology is in its infancy



Apple is rarely first to the party. At least when it comes to adopting features Android users have been accustomed to for quite some time. Those could be as small as having home screen widgets or an app drawer, or as huge as giving us the option of a folding iPhone.

And in some cases, that strategy makes a lot of sense. If you remember the first commercial folding smartphone, which was called the Flexpai, you likely also remember how terrible it was. It was basically a prototype rushed to release, in order for the company behind it to be able to say it was first to release a folding smartphone. Sure, this gained media attention, but the Flexpai wasn't a good phone at all.

Samsung later released its own folding phone – the first Galaxy Fold, which too wasn't quite ready for consumers, even if it was much better than the Flexpai in every way. It took the Korean giant nearly another year to polish and perfect the design of the Fold, and that's when the Z Fold 2 was released. And the Galaxy Z Fold 2 truly was a fantastic marvel of engineering, arguably the most exciting phone of 2020. But it took Samsung a few steps to get there.

The point is, Apple is waiting for the technology to mature, until it's perfectly ready for consumer use. Folding-screen smartphones are a fairly new thing and Apple isn't the type of company to rush a product for the sake of being first. Once the technology has been perfected and if we all end up adopting it, only then will we likely see a folding iPhone get released.

Apple may not want to cannibalize iPad sales



Even when the folding phone technology gets perfected, Apple will probably take its time before releasing a folding iPhone, as to not cannibalize its iPad tablet sales. It's plausible that only, and truly only if folding smartphones become mainstream, as in everyone starts buying them, will Apple be compelled to release one. Otherwise, it may not be worth it from a business standpoint, as a folding iPhone will likely hurt iPad sales, particularly sales of the iPad mini.

Apple still sells the 7.9-inch iPad mini, and the next 2021 iPad mini 6 is thought to be in preparations for a release in the coming months. This clearly suggests that there may not be plans for foldable iPhones, at least in 2021.

Mainstream users still gravitate towards the convenience of a normal phone



As cool as they are, folding smartphones are notably less convenient to use on a daily basis than a normal thin and light phone. I used the Z Fold 2 for about a month and even though I loved it, I went back to my regular phone in the end, as constantly having to fold and unfold my phone, and carrying a brick like that in my pocket all the time just wasn't worth it. Especially when you already have a tablet or two around the house.

Most users too are likely not ready to commit to a folding phone, which Apple is well aware of. Until foldables become lighter, thinner, more durable and generally more convenient, they won't become a mainstream trend for Apple to consider noteworthy. For now, folding phones are for the die hard tech enthusiasts who wish to be on the cutting edge, despite the downsides.

Rollable phones or Augmented Reality (AR) could be the next big thing instead



As exciting as folding phones are, Apple is likely aware that rollable phone technology may actually prove to be the better option. AR also seems like an inevitable new mobile technology trend that's about to hit us in the coming years. We actually know that Apple is quietly working on AR glasses. We even took a look into the potential future and discussed the idea of whether Apple's AR glasses could replace our smartphones.

But ultimately, we'll just have to wait and see what exciting new mobile technology awaits us in 2021. What are your thoughts on all of this? Do you believe Apple is going to release a folding iPhone soon, or it will jump straight to either a rollable iPhone or AR glasses? Let us know in the comment section below.

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