Why Apple Isn’t Making a Foldable Phone Screen

Samsung wants to make foldable phone screens fashion. Apple, at least for now, doesn’t need to make a statement.

Eric Ravenscraft
OneZero
Published in
6 min readFeb 17, 2020

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Photo: Kimberly White/Stringer/Getty Images

RRebecca Hirst, Samsung’s U.K. product marketing head, said something curious at the company’s annual Unpacked event in early February. While showing off the company’s new foldable Galaxy Z Flip, Hirst called it “a statement smartphone,” implying that the device is meant to be not only useful but also a fashion statement. In its short, six and a half minute presentation, Samsung executives also said the phone was “for trendsetters and trailblazers” and described it as “an icon” and “a standout smartphone for people who want to stand out.”

These comments say a lot about how Samsung expects to convince an increasingly frugal customer to buy a nearly $1,400 phone.

They also say something about why Apple has still not released a phone with a foldable screen despite some speculation that it would.

A foldable screen doesn’t have many obvious benefits. It might fit into some pockets easier. And the new Galaxy Z Flip can be propped up at an angle so the user can, for example, set the phone on a table while pointing the selfie camera at their face. But these features are hardly worth the hundreds of dollars price difference between a foldable phone and similar but nonfoldable competitors. Until the price of a foldable phone becomes practical, Samsung’s best bet is to frame them as fashion statements. Meanwhile, Apple is already a fashion statement. No folding required.

Foldable phones have created a justifiable stir in an otherwise stagnant smartphone industry, but in terms of price for performance, they leave a lot to be desired. The Galaxy Fold features a large, tablet-like screen that could be more useful than a regular phone screen for tasks like reading books or browsing a map. But with a too-small outer screen that can be used when the phone is folded closed, a poorly designed hinge, and a high price of $2,000, the phone has received poor reviews.

The revamped Motorola Razr offers a different take. This phone folds out, much like its classic predecessor, to reveal a 6.2-inch display. That isn’t much bigger than some nonfolding phones…

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Eric Ravenscraft
OneZero

Eric Ravenscraft is a freelance writer from Atlanta covering tech, media, and geek culture for Medium, The New York Times, and more.