Jefferies analyst Peter Misek claims that Apple Inc. is working on iPhones that can be folded to an iPad mini. He gained knowledge of the iPhone/iPad mini hybrid through sources working on the supply chain.
"In contrast to investors' fears, the supply thinks Apple's innovation may be accelerating. With more than the usual number of prototypes floating around, here are some highlights (with the caveat that Apple might be purposely leaking to confuse competitors): 5.5″ OLED phone with 2k >660ppi display; iTV with full gesture control, voice control, and 4K; touchscreen MacBook Air running on A8; 4″ OLED iPhone that unfolds into an iPad mini; smartwatch prototypes including curved bangle-type and curved-screen; and wearables including health care appliances and payment authentication modules," Misek wrote in a note to investors.
Interestingly, Apple Inc., Samsung and Google are already on patent race for an advance technology material - Graphene - that could make foldable smartphones a possibility.
"We will someday see an era where mobile devices will truly become flexible, easily folded and unfolded, and that's when we will need graphene," Claire Kim, a Seoul-based analyst at Daishin Securities Co. told Bloomberg.
Michael Patterson, CEO of Graphene Frontiers said that products which utilise Graphene in basic touch-screen applications could be arriving in the market in the next six to twelve months.
Graphene "...is transparent like plastic, extremely lightweight, extremely strong, yet flexible and elastic. In the past decade, it has taken the scientific and technology communities by storm, and has become the most promising electronic material to supplement or replace silicon," Jeanie Lau, a professor of physics at the University of California Riverside told Fortune.
Hong Byung Hee, professor at Seoul National University, who owns a patent for Graphene with mass-production property, confirmed that Samsung, Apple and Google had already expressed their interests.
"Global technology companies are facing innovation limits in hardware and design, and in order to step over to the next level, they need to adopt new materials like grapheme. Our key graphene technology is receiving considerable interest from firms including Apple, Samsung and even Google."
According to Hong, the Graphene patent that he owns can be used to create devices that could be bent about five times the length of an Apple iPad.
Foxconn Technology Group, supplier to Apple, has also filed for Graphene patents.