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Sketchy rumor tries to pin down folding iPhone release date

An external display would act as a fully functional iPhone running iOS

A supply chain report out of Korea claims that Apple Vision Pro engineers have been reassigned to the "iPhone Fold" project to get the job done faster, but the details provided are questionable.

A folding iPhone has been predicted for years. If a new report out of Korea is to be believed, Apple has assigned engineers to make it happen a bit sooner than expected.

An official said to be familiar with Apple's plans told Alphabiz that the "core personnel of Vision Pro" have been moved to the folding iPhone development team. And because of that move, the publication claimed on Tuesday that the release date of the "iPhone Fold" has been moved up to September 2026 instead of early 2027.

It seems improbable that the engineering team that worked on Apple Vision Pro would be moved around in such a fashion. It's clear that Apple Vision Pro is a first-generation product.

Engineers are not universal — they have specialties and focuses of study. If the rumors that Apple Vision Pro 2 will be released in 18 months or so are correct, that specialized team would still be working on the newer version of Apple's headset.

Conflicting rumors have popped out about the "iPhone fold" in February, after months of silence. The first one said that Apple was working on two prototypes with the main issues being the durability of a folding display, and the cost of the device.

The more recent rumor from February is about as questionable as the timetable in Tuesday's report. That rumor claimed that the project had been cancelled, because Samsung's folding screen technology that it has been using for five years didn't meet Apple's standards.

Alphabiz has a decent track record on predicting moves in the Android world, but not a perfect one. It has a notably poorer one when it tries to predict Apple's plans — but it has not been universally wrong.

Apple has years of research on how to make a folding iPhone

While Apple has never commented publicly on the topic, ongoing research for about a decade has pointed to the company at least considering the idea.

Detail from one of many Apple patents regarding foldable devices.
Detail from one of many Apple patents regarding foldable devices.

Patents show that Apple expects to overcome these reported screen issues with complex hinges, new display technology, and hybrid OLED that doesn't crease.

The 'iPhone Fold' is expected to take design cues from existing Apple products
The 'iPhone Fold' is expected to take design cues from existing Apple products

Fully closed, it's been said that the thickness of the device will be only slightly thicker than current iPhones, while open it should be similar to the size of the iPad mini.

It's also likely given EU law that the "iPhone Fold" would have a USB-C port, and support MagSafe. Apple could use Face ID, but placement of such a biometric sensor would be complicated on a product that can be used open or shut.

The screen has been the key challenge. Apple isn't likely to ever release a foldable if it has fundamental problems with the display.

It isn't yet clear how Apple will optimize iOS or iPadOS for the folding device. Little may have to change if the display only works in a fully open position.

There is a chance that Apple could allow a three-quarters open or half-open mode for gaming or chat apps as well.

The "iPhone fold" concept has always seemed to be a product that the rumor mill thinks is to years away. Predictions for release windows have marched from 2022 after the first rumors about it popped out in 2020, to 2026 as the years have advanced.