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A foldable iPhone may be in the works for 2020

Apple is reportedly in talks with LG Display to make a foldable OLED screen for a future iPhone.

James Martin/CNET

Forget Face ID or bezel-less screens, the future of the iPhone may be foldable. Apple is reportedly partnering with LG to create foldable OLED displays for an upcoming generation of iPhones. The folding iPhones are set for production in 2020, according to Korean news outlet The Bell (via The Investor).

The recently announced iPhone X represents a significant design change for Apple, including a front-facing camera that reads your face, a new bezel-less OLED screen and the removal of the home button. It makes sense that Apple would be thinking years ahead on the next design leap, and folding screens may be a part of it.

Samsung, which has dabbled with flexible screens for years, is also working on folding phones. According to The Bell, going with LG instead of Samsung could be an attempt to distance itself from its competitor.

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Samsung has been experimenting with flexible screens for years.

Josh Miller/CNET

The iPhone X is the first iPhone to use an OLED screen, but to pull this off Apple had to partner with its longtime rival, Samsung, the world's premier OLED manufacturer. While the end result was the fancy new screen on the iPhone X, Samsung will likely make billions of dollars from the deal and could keep cashing in if the X is successful. By working with LG's display branch instead of Samsung's, Apple could potentially lessen its dependence on its rival.

There's also a concern that Samsung could leak info about the foldable iPhone, according to the report. A display industry representative told The Bell that Samsung Display (the division that makes the folding screens) deliberately does not pass along Apple's info to Samsung Electronics (the division that makes Galaxy phones) but there is still the possibility that details could get leaked during the development process.

Although LG Display has already developed prototypes of its folding OLED screens, it's much smaller than Samsung Display, which could account for the potential 2020 production timeline. On the other hand, Samsung is aiming to release a folding phone next year.

The race towards a foldable phone continues, but in the meantime you can preorder the iPhone X starting Oct. 27.

Neither Apple nor LG immediately responded to a request for comment.

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