With Google's Pixel Fold just weeks away, is a foldable iPhone fashionably late or just late to the party?

iPhone 15 fold concept
(Image credit: Future)

The foldable phone. It was once something that Apple could ignore. After all, the only company really making their phones bend in the middle was Samsung and Apple wasn't going to lower itself to competing with the company that stole its Home Screen, was it?

But the foldable landscape has changed a lot since that first Galaxy Z Fold arrived back in 2019. It's a bigger market, a more mature one at that. It's one that has seen plenty of foldables added to the mix in different form factors with varying degrees of success.

And it's a market that is about to see Google enter the fray with its Pixel Fold. And now, if not before, Apple finds itself on the outside looking in and surely wondering whether it's left things too late. Has Apple waited too long to launch a foldable of its own?

Is it too late for the iPhone Flip?

Better late than never, right?

Apple isn't normally the first to enter most markets. It's important to remember that the iPhone might have changed the way we used phones, but it was far from the first smartphone to be available for people to buy. It gave rise to a whole generation of people who want the very best iPhone money can buy, competition be damned.

The iPad wasn't the first tablet, but it changed the way we thought about what they were and what they could do — although I have to admit it's still in the process of doing it completely.

The Apple Watch? It wasn't the first time we'd seen a company put a miniature computer on the wrist. Now it's the best-selling watch on the planet.

Could the same happen with a foldable iPhone? Of course it could, and Apple is perhaps very well aware that it doesn't need to be the first into a market just to be able to compete. Or in plenty of cases, take it over.

But in all of those other cases, Apple brought something new. Something the competition didn't have. The iPhone had the App Store and an interface that didn't suck. The iPad had the App Store as well as a form factor that people wanted to use after years of Tablet PCs. The Apple Watch had the App Store (there's a pattern there somewhere) and the health features people wanted while working with their iPhones in ways nothing else could manage.

What's the foldable iPhone going to offer?

Iphone Air Concept Image

(Image credit: ADR Studio)

It could have a new type of hinge that does away with the crease that even the best foldables still have to deal with, I suppose. And it would of course have the App Store just like everything else Apple makes. But is that enough?

Possibly. We won't know until Apple launches its foldable iPhone — and it will launch a foldable iPhone eventually — to find out whether it can compete with what's already out there. The world of Android foldables goes from strength to strength every time a new model is released. And unless Apple has something up its sleeve it's going to be so far behind it could be difficult catch-up.

The longer Apple leaves it, the harder it will get.

It's time

Folding iPhone concept

(Image credit: Future)

As we get nearer to the expected iPhone 15 launch in September there's plenty to look forward to. But on May 10 Google will announce the Pixel Fold, a $1700 foldable device that will turn into an iPad mini-like device when open. And it's going to be pretty awesome.

We still have some way to go before we can call the iPhone boring. But the more I look at what's going on over the fence I have to wonder what a foldable iPhone could be like. How awesome an iPhone that turns into an iPad mini could be. How iPhone apps could instantly morph into iPad ones thanks to universal binaries. How everything Apple has had developers do to make apps work on different screen sizes could finally come to fruition.

How, frankly. It's time. It's time for a foldable iPhone, whether Apple thinks it or not.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • fluffylucy
    A more pertinent question would be. What is the point of a folding phone - what is the use case? Does the gimmick value really make up for having to put up with a crease across the screen of a super expensive phone?