iPhone Fold could be one step closer to reality

iPhone 13 Pro
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The iPhone Fold (or iPhone Flip as it could be called) has been rumored for a long time, and while this foldable iPhone isn’t likely to launch imminently, there is growing evidence that it’s in the works, with the most recent sign being a new Apple patent.

Spotted by Phone Arena, this patent titled ‘Electronic devices with fiber composite friction hinges’ is for a hinge that’s strong yet slim.

Of course, a hinge doesn’t have to be for a foldable phone – it could be for a laptop or something, which is a type of device mentioned in the patent. But so are smartphones, and part of the description reads "the electronic device may have a flexible layer such as a flexible display that overlaps the hinge structure."

So a hinge that works with a flexible display and could be used on a phone? That certainly sounds like something that Apple could incorporate into a foldable iPhone.

As ever with patents, we’d note that while this is proof that Apple is at least exploring the idea of this hinge, it doesn’t guarantee that this will make it into a product, and if it does it might not appear for a long time, or might only show up in devices other than smartphones.

Still, it’s yet one more piece of the foldable iPhone puzzle, and coupled with other hints of the device that we’ve seen over the years, it certainly seems like one is in Apple’s future.

Opinion: Apple could make foldable phones mainstream

At the moment foldable phones are niche devices, despite Samsung’s attempts to popularize them. The company has made some headway, but it’s slow going, and not helped by the fact that arguably no other companies are making a concerted effort with the tech.

But if any brand has a better chance to make foldable phones big than Samsung, it’s Apple. Beyond Apple being a massive brand with loyal customers, its fans are also used to paying high prices for phones, so the inevitably high cost of an iPhone Flip might not put too many people off.

It’s also telling that Apple hasn’t launched one yet – so often the company will wait until tech is perfected before launching a product or feature, so if and when it does launch an iPhone Flip, the phone will probably be a polished product, with none of the growing pains we’ve seen from the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold line.

Still, there’s no doubt Apple has been watching and learning from Samsung here, so however popular the iPhone Flip ultimately is, it will probably partly have Samsung to thank.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.