Although we’ve heard many rumours of Apple’s work on folding screen technology over the past few years, more recently the reports on what the company has been up to for its first folding iPhone have been coming in fast and furious, giving us a better idea of what we could be looking at, and when it may be coming.
Things began to gain a lot of steam last fall when it became apparent that Apple was getting ready to start testing foldable displays, and by November we heard news that it had the first foldable iPhones in test production, leading to some very optimistic reports that we could see at least one version as soon as the end of this year.
However, cooler heads later prevailed with more pragmatic timelines that put the release likely sometime into 2023 — even the usually optimistic Jon Prosser admitted he had no idea when the first folding iPhone might arrive.
Now veteran analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has weighed in with his own predictions supporting the 2023 timeline, while also adding some further thoughts on how Apple’s highly anticipated foldable device might shape up.
The news comes in an “omnibus” investor note that Kuo shared earlier this week, where he laid out what he believes is Apple’s overarching iPhone strategy for the next 2–3 years, including some thoughts on the 2022 “iPhone 14”, the next-gen 5G iPhone SE, and Lightning, USB-C, and MagSafe.
It’s Going to Be Big
One of the most notable points that Kuo has to share about the folding iPhone is that Apple won’t skimp on screen real estate, with predictions that it could have a 7.5–8 inch display, which means it could effectively rival the iPad mini in size.
This does line up with another report that arrived last month from a source with less of a proven track record, who had pegged the screen size in the 7.3–7.6 inch range, but also added that it could include an Apple Pencil — an addition that seems a bit more of a stretch, but wouldn’t be completely impossible if the screen were to grow to such “phablet” sizes.
What’s more interesting is how such a screen would fit into Apple’s design plans overall. Another recent report suggested that after testing several prototypes, Apple had decided to go with a Galaxy Z Flip style clamshell design, however even at 7.3 inches that would make for a hefty screen upgrade from Samsung’s 6.7-inch model — which right now is effectively a foldable iPhone 12 Pro Max in size.
Going all the way up to a full eight inches would make for a pretty massive device, even after the fold, depending of course on the design and aspect ratio that Apple chooses to go with.
At this point, however, Kuo is clear that nothing has yet been cast in stone, and there are still “key technology and mass production issues” to be worked out if Apple has any hope of making even a 2023 launch date.
At this point, the folding iPhone is still very much in the research and development stages, so anything could still happen, including the possibility that Apple may find some insurmountable challenges and scrap the project entirely.
If everything lines up, however, it really is starting to sound like 2023 could be the year that we finally see the most daring new iPhone design in history.