Apple hasn’t made a phone that can be folded in half yet — well, not one that’ll continue working if you do manage to bend it that much, anyway. But a foldable iPhone has long been rumoured, with talk of one possibly emerging in 2024 to challenge Samsung and Motorola.
But it might not look exactly as you’d imagine a foldable to appear, if Apple soothsayer Ming-Chi Kuo is to be believed. The TF International Securities analyst tweeted that Apple is experimenting with E Ink’s electronic paper display (EPD) for a “future foldable device’s cover screen.”
EPD tech is a lot like the e-ink used in Amazon’s Kindle and other e-book readers — albeit colour, in this case, which should make it a little bit prettier.
But only a bit: EPD has some excellent qualities — miniscule battery drain and being easy on the eyes — but good looks aren’t typically amongst them, when compared to OLED or micro LED.
Reading between the lines then, you wouldn’t imagine this cover screen to be massive, like on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. It’s more likely to be a small area for showing notifications and other pertinent information when the device is closed — like the 1.1in OLED strip on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 (pictured above).
Given foldables’ generally weak battery life, this kind of drain-saving change could make a whole lot of sense. After all, it’s not like you need an ultra-fast refresh rate and high-resolution OLED HDR for a screen that functions as a glorified mail flag. It’d be like putting a Bang & Olufsen speaker on an ice cream van.
All the same, it doesn’t feel hugely Apple which, historically, has sometimes favoured style over substance. That said, as I’ve written before, Apple is one of the few companies in the world that has the ability to change what people think is stylish — which is how AirPods went from being widely mocked to ubiquitous in just 18 short months. If so, maybe every foldable will one day embrace EPD.
But given Kuo says it’s only being tested, it’s entirely possible that Apple will decide it simply doesn’t look premium enough. Even if that does mean you’ll need to keep your charger on hand…