With folding phones there was an enigma at the beginning: would they become a success comparable to phones with large screens, such as the Galaxy Note; Or instead would they be a fiasco like curved TVs? These Samsung bets came out heads and tails. The folding mobiles, for the moment, have come out singing: They still need more time to establish themselves as something significant in the industry… or to remain in a redoubt without much interest.
Three years after the first ones arrived, it is already Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, Honor, Motorola, Vivo and Oppo who have been encouraged with this format at some point. Relevant brands such as OnePlus or Realme (which share ownership with Oppo and Vivo, BBK), Google or Apple continue to profile themselves when it comes to folding. Users of the first three have alternatives without leaving their operating system. Apple’s don’t.
In 2019, the first year with foldables on the market, four models hit the market. In 2020, five. In 2021, seven; and in the eight months that we have been in 2022, five, again with Samsung as the protagonist.
A fairly slow evolution if we take into account the number of mobile phones that are announced each year. Between 450 and 600 in recent years. Around 1% of mobile phones announced each year are foldable. Let’s see the evolution of folding launches in another way, superimposing them on traditional terminals.
With Android users being able to choose folding options, iOS users can’t. Three summers ago, rumors began about Samsung offering to Apple to provide this type of panel. Same rumors that came a year later.
Ming Chi Kuo, one of the most common leakers of information about Apple, with sources in the production chain and one of the best percentages of success in his guild, advanced that 2025 would be the year that Apple would launch its first foldingat the earliest, and that it could be an iPhone as such, or a hybrid iPhone-iPad approach device.
Apple is characterized, among other things, for being conservative in her bets: she only opens herself to new ranges when she can make a full bet. So yes, it goes with everything. Apple Watch, AirPods… Samsung is at the opposite end of the spectrum, used to risking and launching prototypes that the market ends up validating or not. Its facet as a supplier of components to other manufacturers also has an influence there, a business from which it makes much more margin than from the sale of consumer electronics.
Apple doesn’t usually take chances with early releases. Samsung, more than anyone
Maybe that duality explains Apple’s delay in betting on this marketespecially considering that, having solved the problems of the hinges of the first models, the state of the screen of a folding screen after a while of use is still a risk, since these are prone to aging much worse than traditional panels.
Time will tell if this is the only stumbling block that remains for Apple to dare to launch its folding proposal, which has surely been tested in the Apple Park laboratories for some time. Foldables bring inherent advantages like huge screens in a pocket size. Not bad to be able to watch videos, use maps or read books in such a format from anywhere.
It would not be bad either, in any case, to see what Apple’s approach to a folding terminal is. Apple is the one who defined the physical standards of mobile phones during the last fifteen years, the main focus of smart watches, the design of ultraportables or the principle of wireless sound headphones. We will have to keep waiting.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism