The folding iPhone just got a surprising step closer to reality

The back on an iPhone on a red table
(Image credit: Future)

While the long-rumored iPhone Flip has generally remained just that - a rumor - it sounds like the anticipated Apple foldable phone may have taken a big metaphorical step closer to really existing.

This comes from Asian news site The Elec, which has published a report on Apple's production of a new type of OLED display. This comes without a polarizer, which is a layer designed to improve how easy the screen is to see, and according to The Elec this removal, which also makes the screen thinner, is designed to make it ideal for foldable phones.

This technique of removing a polarizer to make foldable phone screens isn't new - in fact, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 used such a display, and it's Samsung Display (a different arm of Samsung to the group making Galaxy smartphones) which is making Apple's ones now.

But does that mean the iPhone Flip is nearing release? No, we'd say probably not.

Analysis: don't expect the iPhone foldable any time soon

Just because a report says Apple is making folding screens, doesn't mean we're going to be able to buy a bending iPhone this year.

Not only do other parts need to be designed, including a hinge, body and components which also suit the handset's bending nature, but we don't actually know that these screens are for the finished product.

That's because a key step in the creation of a phone is the research and design phase, where plenty of prototypes are created and tested to see which is best.

It's likely that the new displays are simply being created for test phones that'll stay in Apple's labs, and won't ever go on sale.  So you don't need to start saving for a foldable iPhone just yet.

But still, the fact that Apple is building iPhone displays suggests that it's got a select few prototypes it's focusing on, and is out of the planning stage. 

That still fits nicely with the mooted 2025 release date for the iPhone Flip, but if Samsung shows it's stealing a march with foldable phones in the next couple of years, Apple could well be in a position to move that up a year if it's already sampling the necessary screen tech.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.