Apple considers a foldable iPhone; Minor changes planned for 2021 models
Apple has started work on an iPhone with a foldable screen, a potential rival to similar devices from Samsung Electronics Co. and others, though it only plans minor changes for this year’s iPhone lineup.
The Cupertino, California-based company has developed folding display prototypes for internal testing but has not solidified plans to launch a folding display. iPhone. Development work has not expanded beyond a screen, which means Apple It does not yet have complete phone prototypes in its labs, according to a person familiar with the work, who asked not to be identified to discuss private matters.
I like it Samsung Galaxy Fold, the restart of Motorola Razr and other offerings from Chinese companies, including Huawei, a foldable iPhone would allow Apple to make a device with a larger screen in a more affordable package. Apple has internally discussed a number of folding screen sizes, including one that folds out to a size similar to the 6.7-inch screen on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Today’s flip phones have 6-inch and 8-inch unfolded screens.
Apple’s foldable displays under test, like Samsung’s, have a nearly invisible hinge with electronic components positioned behind the display, the person said. Other companies, including Microsoft, have recently launched devices with visible hinges that separate two different panels. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
This would be a sea change for Apple. Its pioneering full-screen touch smartphone is arguably the most successful consumer technology product ever, helping to make Apple the most valuable company in the world. However, a foldable iPhone is likely years away or ultimately never present. The company is currently focused on launching its next-generation flagship iPhones and iPads later this year.
Apple isn’t planning any major changes to this year’s iPhone lineup given improvements made to the smartphone in 2020, including 5G and new designs, according to people familiar with the situation. Within Apple, engineers consider the upcoming iPhones to be another “S” version of the device, the nomenclature typically given to new iPhones with minor updates.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also complicated product development, as Apple’s hardware engineers only work in the company’s Silicon Valley offices a few days a week and in limited numbers. That has meant offloading the work to Apple engineers in China.
Last year, the pandemic delayed the launch of the iPhone 12 for several weeks, but Apple was still able to include almost all the planned functions, except an accessory called “AirTags” to locate physical items such as backpacks and keys. The company now plans to release that accessory this year, and is planning multiple accessories for it, including a leather keychain. Samsung announced a similar gadget earlier this month.
Although the overall changes will be minor, Apple is still testing a key update for 2021: an in-display fingerprint reader. This would add a new method for users to unlock their iPhone, going beyond a passcode and Face ID facial recognition. Apple began moving away from fingerprint sensors in 2017 with the launch of the iPhone X But Touch ID has remained a feature on cheaper Mac laptops and iPhones ever since. Qualcomm Inc., which provides Apple with 5G modems, announced a faster in-display fingerprint sensor earlier this month.
The feature would be convenient in an environment where users wear masks, which are often incompatible with facial recognition. An in-display fingerprint reader, which has also been included in Android phones for several years, could also be faster than Face ID for some users. However, Apple will not remove its facial recognition scanner, as it is still useful for augmented reality and camera functions.
Apple has also discussed the possibility of removing the charging port from some iPhone models in favour of wireless charging. The company moved to a MagSafe magnetic charging system with the iPhone 12. In addition to removing the charging block from the iPhone case last year. It’s also bringing this charging technology back to the MacBook Pro.
For its line of tablets, Apple is planning a new iPad Pro that looks like the current model but adds a MiniLED display and a much faster processor. Also in the works is a thinner and lighter entry-level iPad that uses the same design as the 2019 iPad Air.