Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Z Flip 4 is undoubtedly the most exciting thing happening on smartphones right now. Based on leaks, rumors and Samsung’s own teases, it will polish what was already an attractive foldable smartphone design with upgrades to the external display and slightly better cameras.
It’s the foldable one I think I want, but only with iOS running on it.
I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s the thought that keeps running through my mind, and I realize it’s a symptom of an unfulfilled desire for a foldable option from Apple.
Rumors of Apple Fold or iPhone Flip or Apple Folding iPhone predate the pandemic — that’s how long we’ve been talking about. Cupertino’s tech giant is no doubt considering, and maybe even testing designs. We previously noted how Apple patent applications show an iPhone with a foldable screen. However, rumors that Apple is considering squeezing two screens together to look like one when the device is unfolded is also a consideration.
I don’t think I’m alone in this mini-crisis: staring longingly at Samsung’s great invention, yet not too secretly wishing I could run iMessage and Safari on it.
My belief that the foldable market won’t explode until Apple joins in isn’t unique. Sure, Samsung recently reported shipping about 10 million foldable devices (opens in new tab) (about the Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy Fold) last year. That’s not nothing, but it’s also microscopic compared to the reported 2.2 billion iPhones sold since 2007.
When I consider what might be holding back the burgeoning foldable market, a market filled with Samsung, Huawei, Motorola and others, I have to believe it’s Apple. The company’s stamp of approval, which invariably comes after other companies spend time and resources to be first, should transform the foldable market.
I did a Twitter poll this week asking if people would buy a foldable iPhone. At the time of writing, about 25% said, “Take my money,” while 75% ticked, “Fold is a fad,” meaning not only would they not buy an iPhone flip, but maybe not a foldable device.
The turnoff for some is that folding screen technology is still in flux. In the beginning, Samsung struggled with the fold, first with a polymer instead of glass. Then it switched to innovative ultra-thin glass for a smoother, virtually bump-free turn.
There is also the problem that most foldable devices are thicker than their non-foldable counterparts. Folded they are of course almost double the thickness, but even unfolded they are not always slim. But even here I think Samsung has made huge strides.
Where is Apple in all this? It’s working on something we won’t see for a year or more, according to reports. Apple is in no rush to deliver an iPhone Fold because:
- It knows the market is still small
- Samsung is working out all the kinks for it
- It does not produce half-baked products
This is a good approximation unless you want to see the state of this market advance at a faster clip and are desperate to see what a very Apple version of the foldable space will be.
Sitting back and waiting means Samsung owns the best-of-class foldable market, but offers no outlet for those who prefer a foldable that lives in the iOS ecosystem.
We can’t rush Apple. We may be overwhelmed by whatever it brings in 2023, 2024 or (🤦♂️) 2025, but it’s going to be a long wait. Who knows. By then, I may have adopted the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and left my folding iPhone dreams behind.