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Apple keeps plugging away on a folding iPhone

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This patent filing is irrefutable proof that Apple is still exploring a folding iPhone.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

We can be sure Apple isn’t ignoring the folding phone market, even though the company is showing no direct signs of making an iPhone Fold. There’s plenty of indirect evidence, including patent filings that show handsets with foldable screens.

Apple received a new patent approval that shows it’s still thinking about a folding iPhone.

Patent shows Apple still interested in folding iPhone

All of the top Android-makers offer folding models, with Samsung producing the best-known devices. Foldables still remain very much a niche market, though, capturing about 1% of global handset sales. Ongoing problems with the devices don’t help.

But Apple is nevertheless researching designs. This week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple a patent for Electronic Devices with Display and Touch Sensor Structures. This includes a mention of “a foldable electronic device,” and one of the diagrams included with Apple’s filing shows a folded handset (shown above).

This is far from the first such patent on this type of device. In past years, Apple received patents on crease-free displays, hinge designs and bendable batteries.

Keep trying, Apple

The logic behind a folding iPhone is clear. People undoubtedly want bigger smartphone screens. Apple’s largest model is usually one of its bestselling. But at 6.7 inches, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is about as large as a phone can get without becoming too bulky.

In contrast, a handset with a foldable display can offer more screen area than a current iPhone while still being pocketable.

Analysts seem somewhat upbeat on the product category, with IDC predicting folding handsets will make up about 3% of the world market in 2026.

That said, Apple could be thinking larger. It’s reportedly planning a foldable iPad and a MacBook with a 20-inch flexible screen for release in the coming years.

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