Consumer Electronics

Apple Developing a Folding Phone

If, as a new report suggests, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is working on a foldable iPhone, we can be sure of two things. The company believes that foldable display has finally put its initial troubles behind it, and such a device is going to raise the high end of Apple’s iPhone pricing.

Citing a report in Taiwan’s DigiTimes, AppleInsider said that Apple has sought help from LG Display to develop a folding smartphone screen. In January, Bloomberg reported that Apple had begun working on a foldable iPhone to compete against rivals Samsung and Motorola.

Samsung launched the first folding smartphone, the Galaxy Fold, in April of 2019. The phone had both display and hinge problems and cost some $2,000. In early 2020, Samsung launched a folding flip phone, the Galaxy Z Flip, and Motorola launched a new RAZR flip phone that carried a price tag of $1,500. Neither device solved all the problems of the original Galaxy Fold.

At this year’s virtual Computer Electronics Show last month, LG Electronics showed off its LG Rollable, a smartphone with a flexible screen that unrolls as you slide the phone apart. Here’s an LG animation of how the mechanism works.

LG’s CEO claimed that the company hopes that the LG Rollable will be on the market “early this year.” As in before June 2021?

LG, pretty much an also-ran among smartphone brands, may have a technology here that Apple could use to differentiate its foldable/rollable iPhone from the Samsung and Motorola phones.

Samsung is working on updates for its foldable coming Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Flip 2 phones. Motorola released a redesigned RAZR 5G phone last October. The updates presumably will include lower pricing. The RAZR 5G lists for $1,399 and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 lists for $1,999, while the Galaxy Flip 2 is priced at $1,449.

If Apple does include a foldable/rollable iPhone in its 2021 release schedule, the device would certainly be the company’s most expensive phone. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has a list price of $1,099, and a foldable device would likely cost at least 50% more. If Samsung’s top-of-the-line foldable costs around $2,000, Apple is unlikely to set a price lower than that and is more likely to set a price at least 10% to 20% above it. The company won’t be aiming at the mass market with such a device, but then a foldable phone could pull prices and margins higher for the phones most of us buy.