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Will It Bend? Apple’s Foldable iPhone Project Faces Critical Setback

Is Apple Giving Up on Foldable iPhone Development Due to Durability Issues?

Apple is reportedly suspending the development of a foldable smartphone. On February 16th (local time), IT specialist media MacRumors quoted Chinese IT tipster Fixed Focus Digital, reporting that Apple has pressed pause on its foldable smartphone project due to issues surrounding the durability of its display.

Did Apple Prepare a Foldable iPhone?

(출처: 톰스가이드)
Tom’s Guide

The start of the foldable iPhone dates back to 2016, when speculation arose about LG Display’s involvement in crafting a foldable display for Apple. There were rumors that they would start mass production in 2018 and supply it to Apple, Google, and Microsoft (MS).

With the buzz surrounding display mass production, various media outlets anticipated that Apple would unveil a foldable iPhone in 2017. However, news of the release was hard to come by afterward.

Apple reportedly embarked on steadfast development of the foldable iPhone beginning from this period. They even purportedly purchased foldable phones from competitors and disassembled them for inspection, with prototypes allegedly sporting a clamshell form similar to Samsung’s Z Flip.

Samsung Display also supplied foldable display samples to Apple in 2019. Recently, there have been talks of organizational restructuring to focus on Apple’s foldable products.

Suspended Provisionally Due to Failing Internal Test Standards

(출처: 기즈차이나)

However, several foreign media outlets, including MacRumors, have reported that Apple has temporarily suspended the development of a foldable iPhone.

The speculated reason behind this decision is the “durability” of the display. The display panel that Samsung Display recently provided broke down within a few days of testing, and the tipster revealed that Apple had temporarily put the entire project on hold due to its failure to meet stringent internal standards. Despite these claims, the specific standards set by Apple remain undisclosed.

MacRumors is skeptical about the tipster’s information. The tipster is not well known and has never leaked Apple-related rumors. However, if Apple’s purported suspension of the project holds true, we will unlikely see a foldable product until at least 2025.

Foldable iPad Instead of iPhone?

(출처: 맥루머스)

Some expect that Apple will unveil a foldable iPad before a foldable iPhone. The Korean IT media The Elec reported that Apple allegedly works on a 7-8 inch foldable device that could replace the 8.3 inch iPad mini.

Two factors contribute to the possibility of a foldable iPad. Firstly, the iPad OS is more suitable for a foldable display than iOS. The iPad has established itself as a portable computer within Apple, so there are limits to increasing the screen size. However, with a foldable display, it is argued that the screen size can be expanded while maintaining portability.

Another reason is that the sales volume of the iPad is much lower than that of the iPhone. In the second quarter of last year, the iPad accounted for about 9.4% of Apple’s total sales, or $5.7 billion. This is considerably lower than the iPhone, which sold $39.6 billion.

(출처: 더 버지)
The Verge

If the sales share is small, it is easier to manage potential problems with the product. The impact on Apple’s total profit is less significant with a smaller sales volume.

Samsung Electronics experienced difficulties when launching its first foldable smartphone. In 2019, they launched the ambitious Galaxy Z Fold; however, within 48 hours, a display defect was discovered. The hinge mechanism, responsible for folding the screen, posed a significant problem. As a result, Samsung Electronics had to postpone the original April release schedule.

Will the Foldable iPad Succeed?

(출처: 나인투파이브맥)

Currently, the iPad is maintaining its leadership position in the tablet market. According to a Canalys Research survey conducted in January last year, the iPad recorded a market share of 38.3%, ranking first in the global tablet market share. Samsung Electronics followed closely in second place with a market share of 19%.

However, the overall tablet market is on a downward trend. Canalys announced that the global tablet shipments in the third quarter of last year decreased by 7.2% compared to the same period of the previous year, totaling 32.705 million units. Although it increased by 5.4% compared to the previous quarter, the industry predicts the demand will remain relatively stable. Whether Apple can successfully transition the market with a foldable iPad in this situation is noteworthy.

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