Ming-Chi Kuo is one of the few Apple analysts whose reports are always worth a second look, even though they may seem odd at first glance. We’ve heard plenty of reports that the company is testing its own version of a foldable device, in its usual style of being fashionable late to the party, while being the best dressed there.
It stands to reason that the company is experimenting with all sorts of versions of the form factor. While companies like Samsung and Huawei have come a long way since the first generation of foldable devices, it’s safe to say that no one has quite cracked the code yet. Screen technology has improved a bit in recent years, as has E Ink technology.
“Apple is testing E Ink’s Electronic Paper Display (EPD) for future foldable device’s cover screen and tablet-like applications”, Kuo reported on Twitter earlier today. “The color EPD has the potential to become a consumer solution for the must-have cover/second screen of foldable devices due to its excellent power saving.”
The last part is indisputable. One of the main selling points of E Ink is energy saving. It’s a key part of why your Kindle’s battery life is rated in weeks, instead of hours. But the technology has always had many drawbacks that have hindered mainstream adoption outside of a few select categories like e-readers.
Recent generations of E Ink ePaper have added color and sped up the notoriously slow refresh rate and responsiveness. We imagine that there is still a long way to go before Apple adopts such technology, even for a secondary external screen. However, with the first of the company’s foldables rumored to be released in 2025 (at the earliest), that might be enough time for the e-paper technology to catch up.
As always, all of the above should be taken with a few grains of salt. It’s a long delay, and even if the reports turn out to be true, there’s a big gap between testing and release. It’s also worth noting that these kinds of rumors have been around for almost as long as the iPhone. So in the short term, it might be better to focus on more feasible rumors like a USB-C iPhone.