Apple may be looking for e-ink panels for a foldout iPhone (or other device)

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Ming-Chi Kuo is a reputable name when it comes to Apple (although he has been wrong sometimes) and this time, the analyst is talking about the iPhone Fold (this name is, as you can probably tell, very unofficial). If I was Apple, I would probably call it the iFold or something, but nevertheless, we have been hearing rumors about it with no actual evidence that we will see such a device and when. With that being said, let’s see what Kuo has said about the foldable iPhone (or even iPad).

Ah, more rumours regarding the iPhone Fold – or whatever the name of this elusive and enigmatic folding smartphone ends up becoming. According to Ming-Chi Kuo of 9to5Mac, Apple is likely exploring e-ink for the exterior display of that mysterious foldable. Apple is considering including an outside colour e-ink display on the iPhone Fold.

Highlights

  • Kuo is suggesting that the e-ink display might be used for the outer display of an Apple foldable device (the display you interact with without having to unfold the display). However, if Apple indeed decides to go for this, it will be a noticeable and big difference from the foldables on the Android market. The thing is, devices such as the Galaxy Z Fold 3 feature a fully usable 6.2-inch AMOLED display when folded, which you can basically use as you would use any other smartphone display, despite the phone being folded. When you unfold it, then you get the big 7.6-inch screen, but if you’re busy in a crowded bus and want to chat with your friends, holding it folded and chatting is comfortable and convenient. However, an e-ink display will not be appropriate for this type of design.

  • It seems that Apple is thinking about using color e-ink displays for future products, and that this option will be well suited for a low-power second screen experience for a foldable form factor device. Other ongoing rumors speculate that Cupertino is also in the process of considering different designs for a foldable iPad. So yes, it seems that the foldable Apple is working on has a higher possibility of being a foldable iPad and not a foldable iPhone (or it could be both, why not). A couple of months ago, both display analyst Ross Young and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman talked about a 20-inch folding MacBook/iPad, and both stated that it is in development.

It seems convenient to use an e-ink display for that purpose, as it won’t consume too much power for static content, and thus help extend battery life (quite significantly, we might add). E-ink displays also have much lower refresh rate, but if the display is a small like (like a 1.9-inch one), the refresh rate really doesn’t matter. With all that being said, you need to keep in mind that there is no official information on a foldable iPhone or a foldable iPad, and Apple might choose to change its mind and not use e-ink for the outer display. There’s still quite some time before we see a foldable iPhone in action, so it’s safe to assume plans might change not once or twice.

On the other hand, as 9to5Mac rightfully suggests, an e-ink display seems more likely if Apple decides to go for a clamshell foldable design like the one that the Galaxy Z Flip models sport. In this case, there’s a small 1.9-inch cover screen that allows you to read the notifications and check the time, but it doesn’t provide a full-screen experience. The outer displays on the Z Fold 3 (left-hand side) and Z Flip 3 (right-hand side – Apple might be looking into e-ink displays for a foldable iPhone (or other device). The outer displays on the Z Fold 3 (left-hand side) and Z Flip 3 (right-hand side

 

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