X

Apple's Foldable iPhone May Be Delayed Until 2027 Due to Screen Creasing

Folding phones are cool in theory, but Apple is reportedly still working through the drawbacks.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read
apple-iphone-screen-recording-0707
James Martin/CNET

Apple is less than a week from its big Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), during which it's expected to announce updates to its iOS software for iPhones. One thing we shouldn't expect to see is a foldable phone.

The tech giant's been working on designs for foldable phones for years, filing patents and dreaming up ideas to take on devices made by Samsung, Motorola and Google. But market analysts at TrendForce say Apple is unlikely to release a foldable phone before 2027. 

In a report, written about earlier Monday by 9to5Mac, TrendForce said Apple is "still evaluating component specifications and performance, with strict requirements for crease and reliability."

Apple representatives didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read more: iPhone Flip: Everything We Know About Apple's Foldable Plans

The newest rumors underscore how hard it's been for the tech industry's biggest mobile device makers to perfect folding phones. Despite about a half decade of improvements since the first ones hit the market, folding phone makers still struggle with how fragile the devices can be

"Most foldable phones aren't dust resistant and have a lower water resistance rating than standard devices like the Pixel 8 and Galaxy S24 lineup," CNET's Lisa Eadicicco wrote earlier this year. "If you work outdoors, have a tendency to drop your phone or handle it roughly or prefer not to use a case, you'll want to be careful when switching to a foldable phone."

Watch this: Apple's AI at WWDC Will Take a Different Twist

Folding is still fragile

A key technology in folding phones is their unique hinge mechanisms that carefully flex the screen enough to close the device, but not so much that it breaks. While the hinges solved the problem of how to reliably fold a screen, they were near impossible to seal water tight, meaning dust and liquid could potentially get into the device.

Samsung in particular has improved these mechanisms in recent years, allowing it to create thinner and lighter iterations of its Galaxy Z Fold tablets and Galaxy Z Flip phone lines. But even then it hasn't solved the problem that all other folding devices have with a perceived crease that's created in the screen.

It's unclear whether Apple can overcome this challenge. It's filed several patents over the years, attempting to engineer solutions to flexible displays. Still, it's yet to actually release any folding products.

Motorola Razr 2023: A $700 Foldable That Trades Features for Style

See all photos