Ming-Chi Kuo is one of the few Apple analysts whose reports are always worth a second look, regardless of how strange they may seem at first glance. We’ve heard plenty of reports that the company is testing its own take on a foldable device, in its usual fashion-forward fashion-forward style, while also being the best-dressed there.
It stands to reason that the company is experimenting with all sorts of shots in the form factor. While companies like Samsung and Huawei have made great strides since the first generation of foldable devices, it can certainly be argued that no one has perfectly cracked the code yet. Display technology has improved quite a bit in recent years, as has E Ink technology.
“Apple is testing E Ink’s Electronic Paper Display (EPD) for future tablet-like applications and foldable device cover screens,” Kuo reported on Twitter today. “The color EPD has the potential to become a mainstream solution for the must-have cover/second screen of foldable devices due to its excellent power savings.”
The last part is undeniable. One of the biggest selling points of E Ink is energy savings. It’s a key part of why your Kindle’s battery life is rated in weeks, rather than hours. But the technology has traditionally had numerous drawbacks that have hampered widespread adoption outside of a few select categories like e-readers.
Recent generations of E Ink electronic paper have added color and sped up the notoriously slow refresh rate and responsiveness. One imagines that there is still a long way to go before Apple adopts such technology, even for a secondary external display. However, with the first of the company’s foldables rumored to be released in 2025 (at the earliest), perhaps that leaves enough time for e-paper technology to catch up.
As always, one should take all of the above with a few grains of salt. It’s a long timeline, and even if the reports pan out, there’s a huge gulf between testing and launch. It’s also worth noting that these types of rumors have been around for almost as long as the iPhone. So in the short term, maybe it’s better to focus on more attainable rumors like a USB-C iPhone.