Foldable iPhone: Everything we know so far

Anurag Singh
Image showing a foldable device against a dark background

A foldable iPhone has been rumored for years. We’ve gathered everything we know about the device, including its design, expected price, and rumored release timeline.

Foldable phones aren’t exactly the new kids on the block anymore. Most major phone brands now have a foldable in their lineup, from Samsung and Google to OnePlus and Motorola. But there’s one big name missing from the foldable party— Apple.

There have been rumors of a foldable iPhone since way back in 2017, but Apple hasn’t said anything official yet. Recent reports suggest Apple might be working on foldable phones that flip open and close, similar to the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5. There’s also a lot of chatter about Apple sourcing foldable displays from this manufacturer or that manufacturer.

There’s no guarantee when (or if) a foldable iPhone will hit the market. But, we’ve gathered all the rumors floating around about this device, but keep in mind they might not all pan out.

Rumored release window

A concept image showing clamshell foldable iPhone

A foldable iPhone is unlikely to launch in 2024. According to a 9to5Mac report that cites Haitong International analyst Jeff Pu, Apple’s first foldable iPhone is “slated for late 2026.” While he didn’t share specific details about the launch window, he said that Apple’s hybrid device with a 20.3-inch will likely “begin mass production at the end of 2025.”

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says it may not launch before 2025, while Digitimes reports that Apple executives have pushed back the launch from late 2026 to early 2027. This delay is due to various factors, like ensuring enough foldable display supply.

However, Digitimes also suggests that Apple is serious about developing a foldable iPhone and has moved some of the Vision Pro engineers to the project. “Staff who previously worked on the Vision Pro were allegedly sent to work on foldable devices instead,” claims the report.

The Elec reported in December last year that Samsung is already gearing up for Apple’s foldable display orders, and has undergone reorganization in preparation.

The machine-translated version of the report reads:
“Samsung Display has recently undergone a reorganization focused on strengthening capabilities for Apple’s foldable products and positioning itself to lead in next-generation technologies such as foldable IT products and microdisplays for XR devices, anticipating market transformations in the coming years.”

A report from The Information reveals Apple is developing “at least two” iPhone prototypes that fold horizontally. However, the device isn’t in the company’s mass production plans for 2024 or 2025.

From what is known so far, a foldable iPhone isn’t expected to launch anytime soon. It’s not even certain if Apple will launch a foldable device, considering it hasn’t moved beyond prototypes as of yet.

Expected price

It’s unclear how much a foldable iPhone could cost. Since Apple might release two kinds – one that folds like a book and another that flips shut like the old Razr phones – the prices could be different for each. There aren’t any rumors floating around about the exact price, but going by what Samsung charges, it might not be crazy expensive.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 starts at $999, and an Apple flip phone would likely be in that ballpark. The bigger, book-style Galaxy Z Fold 5 starts at $1800, so expect Apple’s version to be around there too. Of course, with a launch way down the line in 2026 or 2027, those prices could go up.

Design & display rumors

The design of the foldable iPhone remains a mystery. In his investor’s note, Haitong International’s Jeff Pu says the foldable iPhone will have a 7.9-inch display and a wrap-around folding design. This is the first time we’ve got details about the design and display of the upcoming foldable phone from Apple.

This is different from what most smartphone makers offer these days. Foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Fold 5 or Pixel Fold use an inward folding design. However, the phones are bulky, and the screen is prone to creasing because of a sharp folding radius.

Huawei Mate XS 2
Huawei Mate XS 2

An outward folding design, as seen on Huawei’s Mate XS 2, could result in a lighter and thinner device and reduce the crease anxiety to a certain extent. However, as the entire display remains exposed, it may get damaged easily.

A 2021 report from Bloomberg indicates Apple already had a working prototype of a foldable iPhone display without revealing any details about the design.

YouTuber Jon Prosser says Apple’s been testing the waters with two foldable iPhone designs. One unfolds like a book into a bigger tablet, similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold phones or the OnePlus Open. The other folds shut like a classic flip phone, mirroring the Galaxy Z Flip design. According to Prosser’s sources, Apple is leaning towards the clamshell design, but it’s early days and things could change.

As for the display, TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims the foldable iPhone could bring a screen as large as 8 inches. South Korean publication The Elec makes similar claims, noting the foldable device will replace the iPad Mini with its 8-inch panel.

Omdia predicts the iPhone to be OLED and stand at 7.3–7.6-inch. The larger size would make it the same as the Galaxy Z Fold 5. Kuo has also revealed that Apple is testing color e-ink display tech that might be used on the foldable device.

“Apple is testing E Ink’s Electronic Paper Display (EPD) for future foldable device’s cover screen & tablet-like applications. The color EPD has the potential to become a mainstream solution for foldable devices’ must-have cover/second screen thanks to its excellent power-saving,” says the analyst.

Specs speculation

We’re still in the dark about the foldable iPhone’s hardware. Tons of rumors have been swirling around foldable phones for years, but Apple’s keeping its cards close to its chest. With a launch date possibly in 2026 or later, it’s tough to say which Apple chip will be under the hood. It could be a new A-series chip, or maybe even an M-series one, considering the foldable might be iPad-sized.

Since the industry is calling the devices “foldable iPhones,” it’s wise to expect they’ll run iOS on the software front. However, Apple likes to name everything. The operating system on iPads is nearly the same as iOS, but it’s called iPadOS. The operating system on foldable iPhones might get a new name as well (iFoldOS anyone?).

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