Last month, Samsung and Huawei announced their versions of what the future of the smartphone could look like with their release of the foldable phone. It is fair to say that the hype surrounding foldable phones is at an all-time high. Which begs the question, could Apple be joining the party with a foldable iPhone?
It must be stated that Apple has previously obtained patents of what looks like their iteration of a foldable iPhone, back in 2016. Therefore, it is clear that Apple has definitely explored that avenue before.
According to AppleInsider, Apple’s iteration of a foldable iPhone includes a flexible metal-backed OLED display that has the ability to fold in half. It is unclear whether or not Apple ever put the idea into real life production to create a physical product, but it is clear why they might have not.
Apple has always maintained a level of standard when it comes to their products; and given the state of the early variations of the foldable iPhone being bulky and super pricey, it is understandable why Apple might opt to just, wait it out.
Apple could most likely be waiting on one innovation in particular, foldable glass. The earliest iterations of the folding phone rely on plastic polymers to make their displays as flexible as they are. However, the downside to using plastic is that it wrinkles and causes plastic creases over time. That is not the case with glass. Hence why Corning, the developers of Gorilla Glass, is working on developing their version of foldable glass. Corning has also been a supplier of Apple for quite some time now and has had their Gorilla Glass implemented within the iPhone and iPad for numerous years now.
According to an interview from Wired, Corning is trying to fuse Willow Glass (glass that can fold like a sheet of paper) with Gorilla Glass, making it fold like paper but also making it strong. However, there is one problem. The process of fusing both would mean immersing the glass within a molten salt solution and unfortunately, salt corrodes transistors that are found within display devices. This is what Corning has been trying to overcome.
Corning’s general manager John Bayne states, “In a glass solution, you’re really challenging the laws of physics, in that to get a very tight bend radius you want to go thinner and thinner, but you also have to be able to survive a drop event and resist damage”
Bayne states this new technology is going to be ready within a couple of years, but until then, it is doubtful that Apple will be releasing a foldable iPhone any time soon.