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Apple may be investigating e-ink screens for a foldable iPhone (or other device)

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Ah, we hear some more rumors about the iPhone Fold – or whatever this elusive and mysterious foldable device is called. 9to5Mac reports now Apple is probably testing e-ink for the outer screen of that mysterious foldableā€¦that is, according to Ming-Chi Kuo.

iPhone Fold may have an e-ink color display on the outside, or at least Apple is thinking of doing that

Ming-Chi Kuo is a renowned name when it comes to Apple (although sometimes he’s wrong) and this time the analyst is talking about the iPhone Fold (this name, as you can probably see, is very unofficial) . If I were Apple I’d probably call it the iFold or something, but nevertheless we’ve heard rumors about it with no real evidence that we’ll see such a device and when. That said, let’s see what Kuo has said about the foldable iPhone (or even iPad).

It appears that Apple is considering using e-ink color displays for future products, and that this option will be well suited for a low-power second display for a foldable form factor device. Other ongoing rumors speculate that Cupertino is also considering different designs for a foldable iPad.

So yeah, it looks like the foldable Apple Apple is working on has a higher chance of being a foldable iPad and not a foldable iPhone (or both, why not). A few months ago, both display analyst Ross Young and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman talked about a 20-inch foldable MacBook/iPad, and both stated it’s in development.

Kuo suggests that the e-ink display can be used for the outer display of a foldable Apple device (the display you interact with without unfolding the display). However, if Apple does indeed choose this, it will be a noticeable and big difference from the foldables in the Android market.

The point is that devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a fully usable 6.2-inch AMOLED display when folded, which you can basically use as you would any other smartphone screen, despite the phone being folded. When you unfold it, you get the large 7.6-inch screen, but if you’re on a crowded bus and want to chat with your friends, when you fold it up and chat, it’s comfortable and easy. However, an e-ink display is not suitable for this type of design.

On the other hand, as 9to5Mac rightly suggests, an e-ink display seems more likely if Apple decides to go for a clamshell folding design like that of the Galaxy Z Flip models. In this case, there’s a small 1.9-inch cover screen that lets you read the notifications and check the time, but it doesn’t offer a full-screen experience.

It seems useful to use an e-ink display for that purpose, as it doesn’t consume too much power for static content and thus helps extend battery life (quite considerably, we might add). E-ink displays also have a much lower refresh rate, but if the screen is small (like a 1.9-inch), the refresh rate really doesn’t matter.

That said, keep in mind that there’s no official information about a foldable iPhone or a foldable iPad, and Apple may choose to change its mind and not use e-ink for the outer screen. It’ll be quite some time before we see a foldable iPhone in action, so it’s safe to assume plans don’t change once or twice.

According to Ross Young, Apple could not enter the foldable phone market until 2025, so we have a lot of time to wait and plans have a lot of time to change.

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