Foldable iPhone: Release date rumors, design, and more

iPhone 15 fold concept
(Image credit: Future)

While rumors abound that Apple is working on a foldable iPhone, the most recent reports indicate that its release date is slipping, it's still a long way off, and that Apple might eventually abandon it just like Apple Car. 

So what do we actually know about a foldable iPhone? Well, concrete leaks and rumors indicate Apple is working on a clamshell iPhone similar to the Galaxy Z Flip. There are murmurings that such a device could have a display on both the inside and the outside of its chassis and that Apple wants to nail down display technology that will eliminate the biggest flaw in foldable devices, the dreaded crease! In February, The Information's Wayne Ma reported that a foldable iPhone "would be one of the biggest hardware design changes in the product's history."

According to reports Apple's foldable iPhone is still years away and may end up being canceled altogether before it ever sees the light of day. Here's everything we know. 

Foldable iPhone: Design

According to The Information, reporting in February 2024, Apple "recently approached at least one manufacturer in Asia for components related to two foldable iPhones of different sizes." According to that report, Apple has been exploring foldable iPhone technology for more than a decade. Tim Cook was said to have asked about one in 2018, and Apple's designers and engineers presented him with a 7-inch foldable display demonstration that same year. 

Leaker Jon Prosser claimed in 2021 that Apple is working on a special type of "chemically strengthened Ceramic shield glass" that can be folded. At that point, Prosser reported that Apple had two foldable prototypes on the go, a hinged device with two displays like the Galaxy Z Fold, and a clamshell-style flippable device like the Galaxy Z Flip. In February 2021, Prosser reported that Apple had switched focus to the latter clamshell foldable iPhone. 

Even well-regarded supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo repeated the claim in the same period of a foldable 9-inch iPhone in development. 

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Alongside these patents and rumors, the hype for an iPhone that can flip is even higher now that Motorola and Samsung have brought out similar phones already, and that's inspired some artists to create concept designs on YouTube.

It gives you a great idea of how one can be useful. However, while the iPhone Flip is nothing more than a rumor for now, here are five features that we'd like to see.

Foldable iPhone: Features

Second screen at the back

When this hypothetical iPhone is closed shut, it would make sense to have a smaller screen beside the camera lens to showcase widgets that mirror the ones you can set on your Home Screen.

For example, imagine switching between an Apple Music widget to play an album, or an iMessage one to quickly reply to someone using some generated sentences, similar to how it works on an Apple Watch.

This would not only save time in folding out the iPhone just to do some of these small tasks, but it gives you a great way of glancing at information and dismissing it at a moment's notice.

Apple Pencil support

This accessory has never been made to be compatible with the iPhone, but with a Flip version, it could make more sense.

Harkening back to the Nintendo DS with its dual-screen and stylus, using the Apple Pencil for messaging, jotting down quick notes, or just as a way of playing games on an adjustable display could work well. The bottom half of the iPhone would allow you to write out a message, and the top half would show the output when it's sent to someone.

iPad 7 with Apple Pencil

(Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Better Battery

While battery life on an iPhone has gotten better in recent years, especially with the Pro Max iPhones, an iPhone Flip could go into a low power mode when it's closed and still be able to take calls and respond to notifications using a second screen at the back of the device.

Back Tap 2

Back Tap is a great accessibility feature where you can tap on the back of your iPhone to launch features and Shortcuts, but an iPhone Flip can go even further with the feature.

The ability to customize this further when the device is closed to launch playlists or the flashlight by swiping and tapping in a certain way could let you use the device without opening out the iPhone at all.

Space Black iPhone 14 Pro

(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Better camera game

One of the best attributes of a design like this is being able to adjust the angle of the iPhone however you want, and this can also apply to when you're taking a photo or video.

Imagine putting your iPhone Flip into an L shape, placing it onto a shelf, and using that second screen beside the lens, you can adjust yourself within the frame, and it will take the shot, without worrying whether the iPhone will fall over.

Foldable iPhone: Release date

Don't expect a foldable iPhone alongside the iPhone 16, or even iPhone 17. According to a recent report, Apple's foldable iPhones are "in early development and aren't on the company's mass production plans for 2024 or 2025." A report in March 2024 claims that Apple's foldable iPhone release date has slipped back to early 2027. That same report also suggested that some analysts believe the foldable iPhone may be abandoned by Apple. 

Foldable iPhone: Pricing — what to expect

With an upcoming iPhone already rumored to cost beyond $999 in 2024, a folding iPhone nano / Ultra could go even further at $1,499 to be the 'high-end' model for the line.

Folding phones don't come cheap, and they're not expected to go down in price anytime soon, so we're expecting an iPhone Flip to cost as much as a 1TB 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Why iPhone Flip has to happen

A folding iPhone feels like the next logical evolution for Apple's smartphone. No one wants to have a bulging pocket of a 6.7-inch iPhone - we know someone who carries one in their back pocket, and it looks out of place.

An iPhone Flip will not only get rid of the bulging pocket, but it'll make it safer from falling out of said pocket. However, with its design, it will also help in situations where you want to take the perfect photo, so placing it will be an easier affair, compared to resting an iPhone 14 Pro on a wall.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9