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.