Forget About A Foldable iPhone, How About An iPad That Folds Instead?

COMMENTARY: 03.01.19- With Samsung recently unveiling its smartphone of the future, the Galaxy Fold, instead of Apple following suit and releasing a foldable iPhone of its own, what if it focused on creating an iPad that folds?

Should Apple release a foldable iPhone of its own like the Samsung Galaxy Fold, seen above in unfolded and tablet mode, or an iPad that folds instead? (Photo: Samsung Electronics)

Last week, I wrote an editorial in this column on two ways that Apple could answer back on the new Galaxy Fold by its rival Samsung: one is to release a foldable iPhone or two, to create an iPad when unfolded turns into a full-fledged computer.

This week over on the website Cult of Mac, writer Charlie Sorrel wrote an opinion piece on how nobody will want a folding smartphone but an iPad that folds is a different thing altogether.

While not exactly the same idea I had, it comes pretty close and I thought I’d share some of the things he opined on here in this commentary to sort of lend credence to my own opinion.

Sorrel wrote that nobody is going to buy a folding phone. Not now or in the future. He thought that, at best, it will be a niche product.

But then he posited, what about foldable tablets?

“Folding devices are more of a tablet replacement than a phone replacement. Imagine for a moment that Apple manages to make a plastic screen that feels as good as glass and a hinge mechanism that is slim, strong, and durable,” wrote Sorrel.

“”In this case, there’s one huge advantage to a folding iPad,” he continued. “It can be folded up and put in a pocket.”

You can’t do that with any iPad currently, not even the smallest and compact model, the iPad mini.

Sorrel went on and wrote that instead of thinking of these hinged screens as phones that can fold out, think of them as collapsible tablets.

On the other end of the spectrum, with smartphones that fold, he wrote that if all the kinks were ironed out, there will still be trade offs that most people won’t be willing to make such as the following:

  • a folding phone will always be thicker than a regular phone
  • it will be heavier
  • it will be mmore expensive
  • its battery life will be terrible due to its dual screens
  • its plastic screens will scratch easily
  • it can’t be put into a protective case
  • apps have to be redesigned by developers for compatibility on dual screens

So, what’s the difference in the two mirroring concepts?

“My distinction here might seem pointless. After all, what’s the difference between a phone that gets bigger and a tablet that gets smaller?” wrote Sorrel.

“But I’d say that it’s pretty important,” he continued. “If manufacturers try to squeeze folding screens into phones, they’ll find that nobody buys them. But if they forget trying to make these things tiny and thin when folded, and instead concentrate on making them huge and awesome when open, they could be onto a winner.”

Much like my thoughts on Apple instead of turning on the copier machines and making an iPhone that folds, created an iPad that when unfolded turns into a computer?

Sorrel’s last thought on the topic was this:

“It’s a small difference, but it could make all the difference.”

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