Rumor mill: A foldable iPhone has supposedly been in development at Apple for years, but that doesn't mean we'll see one anytime soon. Rumors suggested the company targeted a 2023 launch window, but supply chain analysts believe 2025 is a more realistic timeframe. Apple could also be working on a foldable MacBook, but that's an even more distant dream.
Apple has reportedly been toying with the idea of a foldable iPhone for some time. However, the Cupertino giant isn't known for rushing to bring a new product category to market before everyone else. Still, industry watchers expect the foldable smartphone market to reach 27.6 million units in 2025, representing a healthy growth compared to last year's 7.1 million units.
According to Display Supply Chain Consultants (DS, Apple may have delayed its first foldable iPhone until 2025. After talking to various sources along the supply chain, DSCC analyst Ross Young believes the company is in no hurry to make one. However, Apple is currently considering creating a foldable all-screen MacBook with a display size of around 20 inches and a resolution close to 4K.
The new device would reportedly be a dual-use product. When folded to laptop form, it would work as a notebook with a full-size on-screen keyboard---pretty much the same concept explored by Lenovo with its ThinkPad X1 Fold. The new Mac could act as a sizeable portable monitor when completely unfolded. Young believes this device could be unveiled sometime in 2026 or 2027.
As of this writing, the only company with significant success in the foldable market is Samsung. The Korean giant has had a difficult start with the original Galaxy Fold but has since fixed many of its most glaring design flaws and even created a touchscreen analog of the flip phone in the form of the Galaxy Z Flip. Huawei has replicated this concept in China, while Google and TCL are working on more affordable alternatives.
Consumers bought 2.6 million foldable phones in the third quarter of 2021, and 93 percent of those devices were from Samsung. Apple's entry into this market would no doubt help popularize this form factor, and renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the Cupertino giant could ship anywhere between 15 to 20 million foldable iPhones in the first year.