In Depth

Is Apple working on a foldable iPhone?

Leaked patents hint at a new smartphone that can be bent in half

According to the latest reports, Apple is developing a foldable smartphone that’s designed to rival new offerings from Samsung and Huawei. 

A leaked patent reportedly filed by the Cupertino-based tech giant shows a device that can be folded in half thanks to a hinge that runs across the middle of its display. 

Judging by the sketches in the patents, the device is slightly larger than a conventional smartphone when unfurled, says the Daily Mail.

When folded, the smartphone shrinks to a more portable size than today’s range of large mobiles, the newspaper adds.

The patent, which contains 24 images of bendable devices, also suggests that Apple’s flexible screens could be used on iPads and MacBook laptops, according to The Independent

One image shows the display can be bent so that it’s “sitting in a pyramid shape”. This means that two people sitting opposite one another could be looking at the same display, says the news site. 

If the patents are genuine, Apple would be joining a growing number of tech firms working on smartphones with bendable screens. 

The company’s “arch rival” Samsung is expected to unveil its first flexible smartphone – rumoured to be called the Galaxy Fold – at its Galaxy Unpacked conference this evening, says Metro

The Korean tech firm’s smartphone boasts a similar, single-hinged design to the device in the Apple patent, the news site says. The phone’s 7.3in Infinity Flex Display can be “unfurled to a generous size” or “folded down so it can fit within a jacket pocket.”

Meanwhile the Chinese gadget maker Huawei hinted in a tweet last month that it had a foldable smartphone in the pipeline. 

Commonly referred to as the Mate Flex, the bendable handset is rumoured to have a tablet-size display that – much like Samsung’s device – is hinged in the middle of the screen, reports Wired.

While Samsung and Huawei’s devices are due to appear this year, Apple is unlikely to unveil a rival iPhone this soon.

Instead the company is believed to be working on a more conventional smartphone that’s designed to succeed the iPhone XS and XS Max later this year. Apple’s radical foldable device is unlikely to be released before 2020 at the earliest.

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