8-inch folding iPhone could arrive in 2023

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Apple invents a unique, no-crease folding iPhone screen
Apple could be set to follow Samsung into the world of folding phones.
Photo: Samsung

Apple could release its first folding iPhone in the next couple of years, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says.

In a new research note to clients, seen by Cult of Mac, Kuo writes that “if Apple can solve the foldable mobile device’s key technology and mass production issues in 2021, then [it] may launch the 7.5 [to] 8-inch foldable iPhone in 2023.”

Kuo doesn’t elaborate greatly on this, but suggests that Apple is working on a “flexible OLED display” for a possible folding iPhone.

Folding iPhone: A work in progress

Kuo’s 2023 timeline backs up another recent report. In early February, Front Page Tech also suggested that a folding iPhone will not arrive until at least 2023. Meanwhile, a report from December suggested Apple is testing two possible folding phone designs.

Whether Apple ever releases a folding iPhone remains an open question. The company rarely leaps into a new, unproven market. Instead, it often lets competitors establish that a market exists for a certain product before launching its own version. That’s what Apple did with “phablets.” The super-sized smartphone trend began in the late 2000s, but Apple’s first phablet didn’t arrive until 2014’s iPhone 6 Plus.

A number of companies — most notably Samsung — have made, or are making, folding smartphones. After the initial failure of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, later folding phones proved much better. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is a massive improvement over its predecessor. It offers a 7.6-inch, almost-square display when unfolded. It also corrects many problems that beset the first-gen model.

In the meantime, Apple continues to research technology related to folding phones. The company patented concepts related to folding batteries and a no-crease folding display. More recently, it supply chain rumors indicated LG Display is working on prototype folding panels for Apple. These could eventually become a shippable product.

Would waiting nearly three more years make Apple too late to release a folding iPhone? Should Apple rush to join its competitors in building such a device? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.