Apple working on a foldable iPhone and in-screen fingerprint for iPhone 13

Fold iPhone concept
Fold iPhone concept (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple is working on a foldable iPhone.
  • It also may include an in-screen fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 13.

As reported by Bloomberg, Apple has begun early work on a foldable iPhone. It is currently unclear when the phone could launch, however, and the company is only planning minor updates to the iPhone 13 that will release this fall.

According to a source, the work is currently only focused on the display, meaning Apple does not have a fully working prototype yet.

The Cupertino, California-based company has developed prototype foldable screens for internal testing, but hasn't solidified plans to actually launch a foldable iPhone. The development work hasn't expanded beyond a display, meaning Apple doesn't yet have full handset prototypes in its labs, according to a person familiar with the work, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.

The phone is expected to more closely resemble something like the Galaxy Fold as opposed to Microsoft's Surface Duo, which matches an earlier report from today from Apple leaker Jon Prosser.

The foldable Apple screens in testing, like those from Samsung, have a mostly invisible hinge with the electronics stationed behind the display, the person said. Other companies, including Microsoft Corp., have recently launched devices with visible hinges separating two distinct panels. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

According to Mark Gurman, a foldable iPhone is still either years away or may never be released.

This would be a radical departure for Apple. Its pioneering touchable, all-screen smartphone is arguably the most successful consumer technology product in history, helping make Apple the world's most valuable company. However, a foldable iPhone is likely years away or ultimately may never be introduced. The company is currently focused on launching its next-generation flagship iPhones and iPads later this year.

While there aren't many changes expected for this year's iPhone lineup in the fall, the company is expected to include an in-screen fingerprint sensor.

Though overall changes will be minor, Apple is still testing a key upgrade for 2021: an in-screen fingerprint reader. This would add a new method for users to unlock their iPhone, going beyond a passcode and Face ID facial recognition. Apple started to move away from fingerprint sensors in 2017 with the launch of the iPhone X, but Touch ID has remained as a feature on Mac laptops and cheaper iPhones since then. Qualcomm Inc., which provides Apple with 5G modems, earlier this month announced a faster in-screen fingerprint sensor.

The company is also expected to release AirTags this year after delaying them in 2020.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.

  • Why did you guys delete my previous post? I will bet the farm on it, that Apples first foldable i-devices will be like Samsungs Galaxy Z Flip, or like Motorola's Razr. Plus I will go on record stating that Apples first foldable, if any, will only run iPhone apps, and no iPad apps will run on it. Think about it for a minute. Apples biggest hurdle with any foldable device is their iOS and app ecosystem. iOS users will be waiting a really long time for a foldable like Samsung's Galaxy Fold type devices, that go from a smartphone to a tablet and then fold back again. In Apples case a foldable that will fold from an iPhone to an iPad will not be happening any time soon, period. Any app developer (like me) knows that Apple encourages its app developers to make specific iPad apps. So Apples app ecosystem can have a specific iPad app, and a specific iPhone app, which is basically the same versions of the same app, only the iPad version is tailored to the larger layout, because of the larger screen, verses the smaller screens on the iPhones. So take an app like Adobe Lightroom for example, there is a separate iPad version, and a separate iPhone version of the same app. Now there is lots of specific iPad versions of the same iPhone app versions. For crying out loud Apples app store encourages this type of app development. Think guys, and then answer this question in your own mind. If Apple did make an i-device that is both an iPhone and iPad in one folding device, then how would Apple and their app ecosystem address installing and running the two different versions of the same app, like the Adobe Lightroom app example? At the end of the day Apples app ecosystem is not conducive to foldable devices, especially folding and unfolding from an iPhone to an iPad type device, and then folding it back again. Apple would have to allow both apps to run on the one i-device that folds from iPhone to iPad. Not to mention trying to maintain continuity from the iPhone app version to the iPad app version of the same named app, when the user folds and unfolds that i-device. That is Apples greatest hurdle when it comes to foldable hardware. Its why I will go on record stating that Apples first foldable will be a foldable iPhone that will always stay as an iPhone, and will only run iPhone apps. No iPad apps will run on Apples first foldable hardware. If someone can't see that, then actually ask a real developer.
  • Foldable phones are not tablets. Simple as that. It’s a dual display phone.
  • Nesdam1981, that is NOT true. Clearly you never looked at, or used Samsungs Galaxy Fold. When folded up, it is a smartphone, and when unfolded it is a tablet. Now Samsungs Galaxy Z Flip or Motorola's Razr they are both smartphones, and stay smartphones unfolded or folded. Now Apples first foldable, if any, will be more like the Razr or the Flip. I will bet the farm on it.
  • Yea I can't figure out how they'd do it and keep their developers happy either, so no way it could happen. It would be like changing processor platforms. It would be nuts.
  • Well Apple could make a foldable, but it will always stay as an iPhone, and only use iPhone apps. So Apples foldable will NEVER be what is shown in the picture above (fold up from iPad to iPhone). In other word Apple could make a Moto Razr type foldable, or a Galaxy Z Flip foldable, but that would be the extent of Apples foldable.