Several iPhone Fold prototypes are rumored to be in development

The iPhone 13 Pro – not available as a foldable.
(Image credit: TechRadar)

It's been relatively quiet on the iPhone Flip or iPhone Fold rumor front recently, with foldables like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 grabbing our attention instead. However, it sounds like several foldable iPhone prototypes are still in development at Apple.

That's according to reliable tipster @dylandkt on Twitter, who says that Apple is "definitely working and testing on multiple prototypes that contain foldable displays". Perhaps we could eventually get both a book-style and a clamshell foldable iPhone.

Before you get too excited though, the same source suggests a launch is still a long way off: Apple has "concerns" around whether foldables will continue to be of interest to consumers or might "fall into obsolescence" instead.

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2023... or later

"Apple is intent on carefully observing the market and improving upon the mistakes of their competitors," says the tipster. "While other manufacturers are iterating on products that are seemingly in beta, Apple is keen on making sure that the design is not a regression from the current form factor of the iPhone."

Apple has previously filed patents relating to foldable smartphones, and according to well-placed analysts, could unveil such a device at some point during 2023 – a device that could conceivably come with support for the Apple Pencil stylus.

Based on this new bit of information, it looks as though 2023 is the very earliest we should expect a foldable smartphone from Apple. The same source has also recently shared some details about what to expect from the iPhone 14 Pro, which should be arriving in September 2022 if all goes to plan.

Analysis: Apple plays the waiting game

The rumor that Apple is taking a 'wait and see' approach to foldable phones is really no surprise: Apple tends to take its time when it comes to adopting new smartphone technology, whether that's dual-lens cameras or fingerprint sensors or 5G.

While this approach can be frustrating for iPhone loyalists, the flip side is that they know that the tech is going to be ready and reliable once it does appear. When Apple does launch phone features later than everyone else, they tend to be just as good or even better than what's gone before.

However, the idea that the foldable phones of 2021 are beta products is a little unfair. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 prove that this is a form factor that's ready for the mainstream, even if prices remain at the high end of the spectrum.

The question remains regarding what sort of prototypes Apple has in the pipeline. It could go for a conventional folding form factor similar to the one we're getting with the Honor Magic V, or it might opt for a clamshell design like the Motorola Razr has. When the time comes, perhaps there might even be more than one iPhone Flip that gets launched.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.