All of the potential benefits of a foldable iPhone

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

Foldable phones are nothing new. We had them back in the early 2000s and they've been making a comeback in the world of Android. Samsung has made several folding smartphones at this point and Motorola even brought back a modernized version of the iconic RAZR with 5G connectivity. But one question remains: When is Apple going to release a foldable iPhone?

Honestly, at first, I thought the idea of a folding iPhone to be quite silly. But as there have been more and more flip smartphones out, I'm kind of having that FOMO feeling and wish Apple made a foldable iPhone. However, it seems that we won't get a folding iPhone until at least 2025, at which point, will they even be popular anymore? Who knows, but here are some of my thoughts on why a folding iPhone would be nice to have.

Apple is always last, but usually does it best

Iphone Air Concept Image

Iphone Air Concept Image (Image credit: ADR Studio)

While Apple introduced the original iPhone and changed the entire industry for the better, they seem to have fallen one step behind most Android smartphones nowadays. The same can also be said about the original iPad and the tablet space, as well as the Apple Watch and wearables. Historically speaking, when Apple revolutionizes one product category, others come in and then end up ahead of Apple's own products, resulting in Apple playing a little bit of catch-up.

With rumors saying that it may still be at least another three years before we see a foldable iPhone, Apple will certainly be late to the market, that is for certain. But Apple also doesn't exactly release half-baked products that have growing pains either. After all, do you remember the first Samsung Galaxy Fold that had durability issues with the folding screen itself?

I hope that whenever Apple releases a folding iPhone, it would have worked out all of the kinks and durability issues that may arise with a folding screen. I mean, Apple surely must have been observing what the competition has been doing and will release something that won't have the same flaws, right?

A flipping iPhone would be great for photography

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Back Flex Hold

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Back Flex Hold (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

There are two ways that a folding iPhone can go: a vertical fold, making the iPhone more like an even smaller iPad, or a horizontal fold like the traditional flip phones from back in the day. I personally would like to see a horizontal folding iPhone, because it would make iPhone photography easier in certain situations.

You may be wondering, "How would a flippable iPhone be better for photography?" Well, right now, even with the best iPhone, the iPhone 13 Pro, you need to use something like a MagSafe tripod or mount to truly stabilize your iPhone enough for fantastic Night mode shots or time-lapse videos. However, if you had an iPhone that can fold or flip open, it can literally prop itself up without the need for extra accessories. It would be so much easier for me to get photos by myself, especially at a place like Disneyland, if the iPhone could do this, so I eagerly await a foldable iPhone primarily for this reason.

A folding iPhone would be even more compact

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Cover Display Pocket

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Cover Display Pocket (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

There are definitely people out there who want the smallest iPhone they can get. I honestly would love a smaller iPhone but I also want to have the best camera system there is, which is why I currently use the iPhone 13 Pro. But if Apple made a foldable iPhone, preferably with a horizontal fold like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, then it would definitely become the smallest iPhone yet.

I personally prefer smaller devices because of an obvious reason: I'm a woman and I wear women's jeans and leggings. A humongous phone simply doesn't work for me, because I can hardly get my current iPhone in pockets sometimes as it is. If Apple were to create something like this conceptual folding iPhone, then I would absolutely buy that without skipping a beat. While yes, it would mean the device is thicker when folded, that isn't the problem when it comes to fitting it in a pocket most of the time. For me, personally, the problem is the overall length of the device — not necessarily thickness — which is hard to cram into a small pocket.

I suppose this is a personal preference thing, so your mileage may vary, but it's something I want to see.

The evolution of the iPhone continues

When the idea of a foldable iPhone first started floating around, I really thought it would be an unwise idea. But I'm slowly changing my mind about it because I think Apple could do it right, especially if it would be a horizontal fold rather than lengthwise.

After all, the iPhone is constantly evolving — every few years, we get a new design. A folding iPhone would be a huge change, but then again, the iPhone itself was a revolutionary new product to begin with. And maybe Apple could offer a folding and non-folding iPhone to appease everyone, just like they have tiny and huge iPhones in the lineup right now.

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.

  • One of the things I love about Face ID is that it is seamless. Before Face ID, we had Touch ID, where I had to put a thumb on the home button in order to use my phone. Now that I have Face ID, I hate Touch ID everywhere else. It is a step that stands between my getting something done on my device. Now, why in the world would I want to add another point of friction between me and my device by having to unfold it before I can do anything!?! This is clearly a notion that Android has a bad idea, and therefore I really want it! Hard pass.
  • I can understand you hating Touch ID today. However Apple never continued to invest in any finger print technology. Apple only added recently to their Face ID to add mask support. So all during the pandemic Face ID actually sucked. Its why many Apple users were hoping that Apple would have added a under the display finger print scanner as well to the new iPhones, but they never did that. Qualcomm's ultrasonic finger print scanner is by far the best finger print scanner on the market where users can have dirty, wet fingers, and it can still scan looking for a users finger print. It even has a live option, or in other words to make sure there is blood flow, and it can even read your pulse. That is some pretty cool finger print scanning tech. BTW Face ID still fails at times for a number of reasons. I understand that if Apple's iPhone decided to go with folding devices instead, then Face ID would be affected. Because you would have to unfold it before the camera saw your face. Apple could still look at using finger print scanners again in the future. Who knows, but in the long run. But everything points to Apple not going to be supporting any foldable device. Especially if it is not coming around in another 3 years from now. Samsung is on its 4th year in 2022 with foldable smartphones on the market. As far as a foldable iPhone unfolding to a small iPad, that will NEVER happen, especially since Apple went out of their way to encourage their developers to make separate iPhone apps, and separate iPad apps. That alone means you will NEVER see a single device from Apple that would be both and iPhone and a iPad in one physical folding device. Like I said earlier, that you will NEVER see from Apple. The only foldable that Apple could make is a flip type foldable, like the Moto RAZR, or the Galaxy Z Flip type devices. The reason is that those type of foldable devices always stay as a smartphone device, and only use smartphone apps. Where as a foldable device like the Z Fold 3, is both a smartphone and tablet in the one physical device, and since Apple went out of their way to get everyone to create separate iPhone and iPad apps, then there is no way you could put both types of apps onto one physical folding iFoldable device. Personally I think Apple is delaying it much longer, and Apple is hoping that their AR glasses will get better to the point that they will ignore the foldable devices altogether.
  • For some people, having their phone unlock straight away can be anxiety inducing. It can be nice to have a barrier between just checking your lockscreen and actually unlocking the device. You know that unless you physically interact with the device there is no way it can unlock. If you just check a Face ID phone it unlocks regardless. Its a wonderful thing for sure as it requires no user interaction but this isn't always what people want. The 'unfolding' action is another physical step, however one could argue that the doors inside your house are a physical action preventing you from entering into a room and that having to open a book is a barrier to reading.
  • Maybe so, but I'm not anxious to try it for a long time after they are introduced. One thing I've learned as a professional photographer is to minimize your points of failure.
  • No. A folding iPhone is stupid and classic "bad design." Maybe leave the design suggestions to those of us that went to school to learn, you know ... design! It's a bad idea because: - it's a solution to a problem no one has (even the biggest phones are still "pocketable")
    - you end up with a fat, square, twice as thick phone which won't fit in your jeans any easier
    - it's a big, *square* surface when it's unfolded, even though phones are all about videos & lists.
    - niether device (folded or unfolded) is as good as the current iPhone, either in isolation or together. It's literally a "worst of both worlds" kind of thing. Design is about *solutions,* not creating more problems just because "FOMO," (which is the worst reason to do anything).
  • Willing to bet you never used a folding phone.
  • I have a Z Fold 3 for my Android fix to go with my iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Z Fold 3 is amazing. I love that I can type out texts on the outer display when the phone is closed and unfold the phone when I want to be more productive; when I want to play a game; or when I want more display to immerse myself in content. If I don't need the inner display, I close it up and continue doing what I was doing I wish folding phones were a thing when tablets first came out.
  • Thanks for your input. That's the kind of stuff I would like to do with a folding iPhone as well. Hopefully if Apple does come up with one, it would work in a similar fashion. Thanks again for reading!
  • "While Apple introduced the original iPhone and changed the entire industry for the better, they seem to have fallen one step behind most Android smartphones nowadays. The same can also be said about the original iPad and the tablet space, as well as the Apple Watch and wearables." The first part about this concerning the iPhone I can almost agree with but even that is objectionable at best. The later part about the iPad and the Apple Watch falling behind... Not even close. There is nothing in the Android world that can compete. And, yes, I use both platforms.
  • From a pure problem-solving perspective folding devices do not really fit into any catagory. Like a lot of Samsung 'innovations' over the years it was something they did because they could, not because they should. That said if you want a folding iPhone just buy a Galaxy Fold. iOS and Android are just about on par with each other these days and whilst you don't have that lovely integration with Apple services you can just use Microsoft to bridge the gap if you don't like Google.
  • No reason for a foldable device in my opinion
  • While I’m sure there will eventually be a folding iPhone, it doesn’t interest me at all. A 6” screen that opens to an 8.5” screen isn’t really all that great. Particularly if it costs the same - or more - than an iPhone and an iPad Mini. I would rather have 2 instead of 1 any day. You know, different tools for different jobs. I don’t want a hammer that doubles as a saw either.