Apple could be working on a foldable iPhone for release after 2020, according to a report. However, let’s not forget that we’ve been hearing rumors of foldable phones for quite some time, and there’s no sign that one will be ready for consumers any time soon, let alone only three years from now.
The Korea Herald reported on this week that Apple has teamed up with LG to work on a foldable iPhone display. Citing The Bell, the media outlet reports that LG Display created a “task force” to develop a foldable OLED panel for the iPhone model. Further, LG Innotek reportedly created a team to develop a rigid flexible printed circuit board for the foldable iPhone.
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One give reason that Apple is said to have partnered with LG to work on the device because of concerns about its technology being leaked to Samsung, its arch-rival. The move is also interesting because Samsung is the sole supplier of OLED panels for this year’s iPhone X.
The Bell cited people familiar with the developments and explained that production on the panels could begin in 2020. If that’s true, it could mean that Apple’s foldable iPhone won’t be out until after Samsung releases its first foldable smartphone, which is supposedly slated for release next year. The rumored foldable phone is reportedly called the Galaxy X, and it has apparently been certified in South Korea already. However, we also heard this year that Samsung’s foldable Galaxy X would launch before the Galaxy Note 8, and obviously that didn’t happen, which calls into question the expectation for a foldable phone next year.
According to The Korea Herald, Apple usually starts working on a new phone one year before its launch, and suppliers start receiving the device’s key features and details about its panel during that year. LG is said to have already finished its foldable OLED panel prototype two or three years ago. Since the first prototype was created, the display maker has reportedly been improving its yield rate and the durability of the panels.
Samsung currently supplies all of the OLED panels for this year’s iPhone X, and the Korean electronics giant has reportedly been tapped to be the sole OLED supplier for next year’s iPhone models too. Meanwhile, LG has been working hard to catch up to Samsung in OLED panel manufacturing, and Apple is said to have increased its partnership with LG Display, which has been supplying LCDs to the iPhone maker for years.
LG’s first OLED panels will be used in devices for its own LG Electronics division and a few Chinese handset makers. The company is expected to begin production for the iPhone as early as 2019 at its new E6 plant in Gyeonggi Province. According to The Korea Herald, Apple is said to be considering making an investment in LG’s E6 plant so that the company can increase its production of OLED panels. However, the iPhone maker has apparently not finalized an agreement for that yet.
This rumor about a foldable iPhone basically just throws Apple into the middle of the next feature smartphone makers are going to be targeting. Even Microsoft has patented a foldable display, even though its device division is defunct and it doesn’t make displays, so the race is on.