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Here’s why we’ll get a foldable iPad or MacBook before a foldable iPhone

Published Jul 13th, 2022 8:29PM EDT
The stunning display on the Apple iPad Mini 2021
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Apple has been researching foldable iPhone display tech for years, but we’ve yet to see the fruits of the company’s labor. Meanwhile, Android vendors have been improving on foldable smartphones, with last year’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 becoming big hits for Samsung. But Apple isn’t in a hurry to sell its own foldable iPhone to match similar offerings from Android rivals. An Apple insider now explains that Apple might launch a foldable iPad or MacBook well before the first foldable iPhone hits stores.

Foldable iPad and MacBook rumors aren’t new

A report in early April suggested that LG is collaborating with Apple on foldable OLED panels that would fit an iPad or MacBook. The screens would have an ultra-thin layer of foldable glass on top of the actual OLED screens. The Galaxy Z Fold and Flip phones use similar materials, while other Android vendors use foldable plastic screen covers.

The report wasn’t exactly surprising. Over the years, we’ve heard that Apple and LG have been working on new screen technologies. LG has also been demoing its foldable screen innovations.

Separately, Mini-Chi Kuo has said that the first foldable Apple product will arrive in 2025 at the earliest. But it will be a foldable iPad or a foldable iPad/iPhone hybrid rather than a foldable iPhone.

Adding 5G cellular connectivity to a large foldable iPad or MacBook can turn those devices into phones. The underlying software would help us tell an iPhone apart from an iPad or Mac, regardless of whether the screen folds or not.

Concept image of a foldable iPhone with a clamshell design. Image source: ConceptsiPhone/YouTube

Why we won’t get a foldable iPhone any time soon

This brings us to new foldable iPhone rumors from well-known display analyst Ross Young. He talked to MacRumors about the future iPads that Apple will release in the coming years. In this context, foldable devices came up.

Young said that Apple might want to add under-panel Face ID to the iPad before the iPhone. That’s because the technology is easier to introduce on a lower pixel-per-inch display. But also, the iPad volume is much lower than iPhone.

Volume is a constraint for Apple when looking at introducing new iPhone technology. Young added that obtaining enough cover glass has been a critical limiting factor for Apple. That’s why the company has not launched a foldable iPhone so far.

Apple sells hundreds of millions of iPhones every year. The device enjoyed major success even during the pandemic, eclipsing the performance of rivals. Even now, the iPhone demand is higher than Android. A foldable iPhone would also see plenty of demand.

But Apple would not face volume issues with a foldable iPad or MacBook. That’s why Young thinks Apple might launch a foldable iPad or MacBook before a foldable iPhone. However, the analyst did not offer a timeframe for the launch of Apple’s first foldable gadget.

More Apple coverage: For more Apple news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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