Why I'm ready for a folding iPhone (or a folding iPad)

A video screen grab of a folding iPhone made by a fan
(Image credit: KJMX)

We’re now five years into the era of folding phones, and Apple clearly hasn’t felt much pressure to follow Samsung’s lead down this particular path. Even by Apple standards, five years is quite a while for some new, next-step technology to be adopted before Apple also features it. 

For most of those five years, it hasn’t bothered me that Apple hasn’t launched its own version – the potential usefulness of a mid-size phone that becomes a small tablet is obvious, but the actual utility has not been so clear, especially when the hardware has had problems with durability and general inelegance. (If you want a slice of retro tech, check our guide to the best flip phones).

iPad

Having something as easy to hold as an iPad mini that turns into something as productive as an iPad Pro would be magical. (Image credit: Apple)

But things have matured a lot. There’s now a whole suite of folding phones that are as thin when closed as flagship non-folding phones are normally. They’re tougher, and the software now really demonstrates the value of the flexibility to have apps side by side at a moment’s notice.

One big problem remains, and if I had to guess, it’s the single biggest issue to Apple introducing foldables: a crease. Folding phones have a line down the centre of the screen when opened, and so far, this can’t be removed. I think it’s totally understandable, though, that people have decided they can live with this in exchange for the benefit (or just the coolness), but it’s extremely un-Apple to have such a big, clear imperfection every time you use your device as intended.

If I had to guess, the biggest issue to Apple introducing a folding device is a crease.

However, a guy can dream. I’m at the point where I think I’d be fully pulled in by an Apple foldable, and I know a bunch of other people who feel the same. And not just because they want what they see on the products from the likes of Samsung, and so on, but more because they want to see how Apple makes it work even better with its control over iOS. The current products have been very effective proofs of concept. 

But I’m not sure if I’d be more into the idea of a folding phone or iPad. The temptation of the iPad would be something the size of an iPad mini normally, but that opens into a tablet with more screen area than an 11-inch iPad Pro. You could keep it small like a notepad for taking notes while in a meeting or when reading a book on the train, but you could then expand it for watching videos or opening spreadsheets, or using apps. I would certainly take this kind of device to more places with me than I do with my regular iPad, simply because of that smaller size – and this could really change how I work.

Google Pixel Fold

The Google Pixel Fold looks great and is so slim when closed, it feels like a regular phone. It is possible! (Image credit: Google)

But then, I’d probably be happier day-to-day just with the phone. To be able to open work documents and Slack side by side when someone sends me a difficult request away from my desk, then to just close it up and slip it back into my pocket – it’s a very boring kind of dream to have, but it’s still a dream. Folding phones are overkill, they have lingering design issues, they’re expensive, and not many people are really asking for them… But then you could’ve said all that about the original iPhone.

This article originally appeared in MacFormat. Subscribe to the magazine through Magazines Direct.

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Matt Bolton

Matt is Managing Editor at TechRadar.com, and previously worked on T3, MacLife and MacFormat. He's been testing technology for over a decade, working in specialist Apple publications as well general technology and creative journalism, and has charted Apple’s ups and downs since his student days (but still hopes to hear “one more thing”). By day, you can find him covering TV, audio, smart home gear and more at T3.com, as Home Tech Editor. By night, he's probably updating or pairing or installing some new piece of technology in the quest for the perfect setup.