A folding iPhone is two years away, according to a trusted industry analyst. When open, the device will have an 8-inch screen, significantly bigger than the current largest iOS model, which has a 6.7-inch display.
The screen resolution will increase as well, to be at least 1800 pixels by 3200 pixels, reports Ming-Chi Kuo from TF International Securities in a research note seen by Cult of Mac. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 1284‑by‑2778 pixel display.
The analyst did not make a prediction about the design of the product. A recent report by tipster Jon Prosser indicted the device will use a flip phone design, somewhat like the classic RAZR. That would give it a tall screen.
The other design some flexible phone makers have used has a squarer display, with the phone opening into small tablet. All these devices also include an external screen so they’re still usable without unfolding the main one.
Merging iPhone, iPad and Mac
Ming-Chi Kuo does not think a folding iPhone is the only such device Apple is considering. Flexible displays will also appear in iPads and MacBooks, too.
“We believe that the foldable smartphone is only one of the applications of the foldable design ,” said the analyst. “We predict that foldable devices will blur the product segmentations between smartphones, tablets, and laptops in the future.”
TPK’s silver nanowire touch technology will be Apple’s choice for these devices, according to Kuo. This can be used in screens with multiple folds or ones that are rollable. It supports medium or large displays, and is durable.
Folding iPhone is part of an industry trend
Kuo predicts foldable screens are the future of phones. “Our latest survey indicates that the fast-growing foldable smartphone market has become a must-have for all major smartphone brands,” the analyst said in his note.
The market is still taking off, but Kuo is optimistic about it. He predicts 7.5 million handsets with this type of handset will ship in 2021, and 17 million in 2022.
Samsung currently dominates the category. But Kuo says Apple will make an immediate splash, shipping 15 million to 20 million folding iPhone units in 2023. And he think Cupertino will eventually supplant Samsung. “With its cross-product ecosystems and hardware design advantages, Apple will be the biggest winner in the new foldable device trend,” said Kuo.
This analyst’s sources in Apple’s supply chain have given him a history of often correctly predicting upcoming changes to iPhone, iPad and Mac.