On the heels of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold announcement, there is new evidence to suggest Apple might be developing a foldable iPhone for release in the near future. Earlier this month, it was reported that Apple filed an update for a flexible display screen patent on Feb. 14.
The new filing included illustrations for a few different hinged devices; one that folds up like a wallet, another that folds into a tent shape, and another that folded in thirds.
Given that the patent application was for a range of different electronic devices with flexible screens, Apple might have foldable iPhones, iPads, and laptops in the offing. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant filed their initial flexible screen patent last October.
The Future is Foldable
On Feb. 20, Samsung unveiled its bold, new foldable smartphone at its Galaxy Unpacked event and it proved to be everything the tech giant hyped up back in November. Befitting its status as a Galaxy device, the Fold has a crisp and clear 4.6-inch QXGA+ screen when folded and a seamless 7.3-inch Infinity Flex Display when unfolded. The device’s other impressive features include a 7nm octa-core processor, 12GB of RAM, a 16-megapixel camera, 512GB of universal flash storage and two separate batteries that give the device 4,380 mAh.
Samsung’s foldable smartphones also feature some new, intriguing software elements. At Galaxy Unpacked, the Android-powered Fold was shown to be able to toggle between phone and tablet modes smoothly via an app continuity system. Moreover, owners will be able to use three different apps simultaneously when the device is folded out.
As the Fold will be available through AT&T and T-Mobile starting on April 26, it will be the first of the new generation foldable smartphones to hit the U.S. market. However, the device’s uniqueness will not last long. LG, Lenovo, and Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi are all reportedly prepping foldable smartphones for launch in the near future.
And Motorola is resurrecting its iconic RAZR brand with a new foldable iteration of the 2000s cultural touchstone that is set for release later this year.
How Expensive will Foldable Smartphones Become?
Despite its admittedly cool appearance and innovative technical specifications, there is one aspect of the Galaxy Fold that might keep it from becoming the next big thing in mobile electronics. At launch, the device will be priced at a jaw-dropping $1,980. That’s a full $480 more than the foldable RAZR and it’s nearly double the price of the iPhone XS and XS Max, which were both priced at $999.
With the smartphone market currently in a cooling phase, it’s unknown if the novelty of foldability will heat it back up. Even with the discounts consumers will receive by getting their devices with a multiyear wireless service agreement, the Galaxy Fold will still be one of the most expensive smartphones on the market.
Looking at Apple’s past pricing behavior, there’s a good reason to believe that the foldable iPhone will cost more than $2,000. Since it will be released in a market where the major wireless carriers will be pushing manufacturers to produce expensive 5G hardware, demand may drive pricing.
On the other hand, Apple’s entire brand identity has been based on providing premium goods for premium prices. If Apple is able to position its foldable hardware as the next phase in the evolution of mobile electronics, they might be able to retake their place at top of the smartphone market.