Could Apple’s Entry into Foldable Smartphone Market Outperform Samsung’s Galaxy Z with the iPhold or iPhlip?

There’s a match called soccer and once every four years, billions of people watch the finals, so US readers can forgive my French as I’m going to refer to it as football in the next 30 seconds.

What am I discussing football for?

There’s a specific position in the game called “striker” and the striker’s only goal is scoring goals. Sometimes, there are the so-called “inactive strikers” – they do not participate in teamwork and instead, simply wait for the rest of the team to do the hard work and pass them the ball. Then, they score a goal and take the credit.

Is Apple a lazy striker?

Now that we’ve introduced the term “lazy striker,” it’s time to stop using the football – sorry, soccer – jargon.

“Is Apple a lazy striker?” is the question we should be asking ourselves in light of the recent rumors about the Cupertino giant and its future foldable plans.

No official confirmation has been made yet, but there’s (once again) information that a foldable iPhone is looking like a reality as Apple readies prototypes resembling Galaxy Z Flip.

On a side note: I have no clue as to how Apple is going to name this clamshell device, so I’ll just refer to it (and its potential Fold sibling) as follows:

  • iPhlip: A clamshell foldable phone (think of the Galaxy Z Flip series)
  • iPhold: A book-style foldable (think of the Galaxy Z Fold series)

“iFold” and “iFlip” just don’t seem to work for me.

Back to the question of Apple’s supposed laziness. It’s no secret that individuals at Cupertino are not out of breath to be head and shoulder above everyone else in terms of innovations and taking tech-related risks. “Reinventing” is the term many are applying to Apple, and I (don’t) wonder why…

According to the latest information Apple is allegedly going to enter the foldable market not in 2024, not in 2025, but in 2026… eventually. By then, the Galaxy Z Flip 8 should be a thing, and the Galaxy Z Flip 9 could be in the makings.

But why isn’t Apple in a rush to release the iPhlip in 2024?

As noted above, Apple is not too keen to rush things. Yes, there are some truly magical foldable phones out there (just to name a few: OnePlus Open, Honor Magic V2, Motorola Razr Plus, Oppo Find N3 Flip, Samsung’s latest Galaxy Z devices), but manufacturing such a gadget is not a walk in the park. There are many things that surely give those who dare make a foldable a headache:

  1. Hinge: how to make that thing tough? And what about the crease in the middle of the screen?
  2. Display(s): the outer displays of book-style foldables are often of not great quality;
  3. Form factor: “Yes, it can bend and fold, but can it sit in my palm adequately?”
  4. Weight: I don’t want to carry a brick in my pocket;
  5. Durability: “I want to take my flipping-cool flip/fold phone to the beach with me!”;
  6. Battery: let’s split the batteries and see if we’re in trouble;
  7. Camera(s): a foldable might seem big, but actually, there’s little room left to cram the latest and greatest cameras inside (the OnePlus Open is an exception to this).

Apple (being Apple) will strive to build a foldable that’s “muy caliente”, as they say in Florida – and the marketing team will work extra hours to convince us this is some never-seen-before technology that’s about to change the world and redefine the way we communicate and ultimately, the way we live. That’s Apple’s way.

There are more reasons to avoid the iPhlip/iPhold for now

Besides, Apple has a far more serious problem to deal with. Apart from passing by the foldable lake without taking a dip, Apple has to catch up (and then keep up) with the rest of the gang in terms of AI. Samsung, Google and practically all of the Chinese behemoth phone makers are incorporating AI aggressively in their devices. Not to mention the whole new product category that Apple launched with the Vision Pro. This spatial computer ecosystem that looks straight out of sci-fi will take much of Apple’s resources. Until it matures, it’ll need lots and lots of babysitting.

The pluses and minuses of the clamshell iPhlip

There are many pros and cons to the clamshell phone design – yes, it’s pocket-friendly, the flip action is very cool and nostalgic, the inner display is protected when folded, and it’s appealing (did I say that already?)…

On the other hand (pun intended), opening a flip phone requires extra hand movement (unless you’ve been flipping phones for a living and you’re a single-handed flip opener Pro). Additionally, the nostalgia moment can turn into a letdown once you find that the crease in the middle of the screen is not exciting you. Also, you can expect a camera performance that’s a step behind that of a “standard” phone.

Also, there’s the price moment. These toys do not come cheap (but what does these days?)

What about Google and the Pixel Fold 2?

Right, there’s Google as well: the Pixel Fold 2 is expected this fall. For the moment, everything goes according to plan and once again, we’re witnessing spectacular leaks half a year before the Pixel Fold 2’s official announcement.It’s interesting why Google is avoiding a Pixel Flip launch, but that’s probably a topic for next week.

For finals

Let’s go back to this article’s inquiry: can Apple beat Samsung in the Galaxy Z Flip/Fold game? (The Chinese foldables are not that much of a threat for Apple in the US, so the big battle will be with Samsung…)

Being a lazy striker pays off – if you’re smart, you can observe and take notes on how the others are dealing with problems; and then, you can avoid them. You’ll be called names, but I don’t see Apple losing sleep over being dubbed “lazy striker”.

The only problem is that Apple is not kicking a ball on the field in the same team with Samsung, Google, and the rest of them. They’re rivals. And if Apple decides to wait too long to enter the foldable realm, the competition could be way ahead by that time.

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