Apple could offer a dramatically redesigned iPhone in two short years, an analyst said on Friday.
Although Apple will offer only small design changes to this year’s iPhones, the company is “working with suppliers on a foldable phone” that could hit store shelves in 2020, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Wamsi Mohan wrote to investors on Friday. According to CNBC, which obtained a copy of the note, Mohan based the prediction on conversations he recently had with Apple suppliers in Asia that informed him of Apple’s future plans.
In the note, Mohan said that the foldable iPhone, when unfolded, would be as big as a tablet, creating a device that would effectively combine smartphone and tablet functionality in one.
Foldable smartphones have been in the works for years, thanks to flexible organic light-emitting diode screens developed by Samsung and LG. However, no major companies have released foldable devices.
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Samsung has confirmed that it’s been working on a foldable smartphone for years and could release the device, believed to be known as the Galaxy X, as soon as this year. Rumors have said that the Galaxy X could also come with a screen-extension feature that could allow it to be used both as a smartphone and a tablet.
There have been some whispers over the last several months that Apple could be exploring foldable smartphones for its iPhone line, but nothing substantial. In October, The Investor, a Korean media outlet, cited sources who said Apple has teamed with LG to build a foldable iPhone. That report also said that the foldable iPhone could be available as soon as 2020.
Until then, however, both The Investor and Mohan believe Apple will stick to its standard, flat-panel design.