New iPhone Leak Exposes Apple’s Tricky Decision - No1 News Directory

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

New iPhone Leak Exposes Apple’s Tricky Decision

Will Apple follow the lead of other smartphone manufacturers and release a foldable iPhone? That tantalizing promise was discussed today in the latest report from Ming-Chi Kuo.

I think that Apple deciding to relase such an iPhone would not only be a mistake, but also something that doesn’t fit with Apple’s current thinking around its portfolio.

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during an event at the Steve Jobs Theater in ... [+] Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. Apple unveiled the iPhone 11 that will replace the XR and start at $699. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

© 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

Any move to a’foldable iPhone’ leads to a simple question. Who is this for? The recent release of the iPad Pro with a desktop-class M1 processor has led many (including myself) to talk about the crossover point between the iPad and the MacBook, how hardware and software are starting to merge, and the idea of one device to rule them all.

Apple has invested a lot of PR to negate this idea, as seen in this interview with Apple’s SVP of Hardware Engineering John Ternus; "Our focus is, what is the best way? What is the best iPad we can make what are the best Macs we can make. Some people are going to work across both of them, some people will kind of lean towards one because it better suits their needs and that’s, that’s all good.”

Does Apple have a magical answer to the question of why someone would want a foldable phone? They come with numerous compromises, increased cost, and by their nature are less durable than regular smartphones. 

The best answer I’ve seen on the rise of foldables is they are the ridiculously overpowered supercars that are designed not to sell phones, but to be used as showcases for the 21st century. Here’s JR Raphael on that subject:

"The foldable phones of the moment, I suspect, exist mostly to serve as marketing vehicles for the brands behind 'em. They aren't about the experiences they provide â€" which consistently fall short of being commendable, let alone exceptional; they're about the idea they represent that the company whose name is stamped on the exterior is an innovator, a leader, a hardware authority paving the way to an exciting new mobile-tech future."

Does this sound like something Apple needs to do? Not to my mind.

I’ve no doubt that Apple has a foldable iPhone somewhere in the depths of R&D. A prototype scratch build to see how they would work, what problems they solve, and if it offers a genuine Apple experience.

Apple doesn’t bring over technologies to its products just because the competition has these features. Touchscreen laptops are becoming ever more popular and countless users are discovering their benefits. Yet the MacBook platform - even with support for running touch enabled iOS and iPadOS apps - has remained resolutely touch free (notwithstanding the undelivered promise of the touch bar).

Apple believes it offers the right tool for the right job. Until foldable phones have a clear and obvious space in the market beyond 'showing off’, Apple moving to a foldable iPhone feels as likely as a MacBook with a touchscreen, an iPad Pro that allows side-loading, or an iPhone that sports a USB-C port.

But maybe there’s some value in discussing an iFold... This mythical handset is pencilled in for a 2023 launch. Assuming this will be part of the normal iPhone release cycle, that would be Apple debuting a folding iPhone some four and a half years after the Samsung Galaxy. 

The biggest benefit of this leak may be the chilling effect it has on foldable sales. After all, if Apple is coming out with one ‘soon’, maybe consumers will hesitate and stay within the iOS ecosystem, or join it now ahead of any iOrigami in the next few yers.

Now why Apple is facing some major delays to this year’s MacBook Pro update...

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