CCS Insight, which has most tech giants on its client list, has predicted that a folding iPhone won’t launch before 2025, and that it will cost around $2,500. It says that Apple will first launch a folding iPad, and that we can expect that device in 2024.
This is broadly consistent with earlier reports by display analyst Ross Young, and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo – with CSS saying that going iPhone first would be far too risky…
Folding iPhone background
Apple has so far taken its usual approach to bleeding-edge technology: sit back and watch, let other companies make the mistakes, and launch only when it feels it can create something significantly better than its rivals.
Samsung has already demonstrated the huge risk of jumping in too early, with the launch of the first Galaxy Fold model proving to be a complete disaster. While pre-orders went well, it was just 48 hours before major problems were found as reviewers tested the device. Samsung initially said it was delaying the launch until May before it canceled pre-orders. The company then talked about a July launch, before canceling that too.
The phone did eventually launch, but the reputational damage was substantial – and our sister site 9to5Google found that the biggest flaw is still present in the very latest iteration, the Galaxy Z Fold 4:
Samsung didn’t make any changes where it counts. The biggest glaring flaw I personally still have with durability on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is with dust resistance – there just isn’t any. There are brushes in the hinge that are supposed to keep dust out, but on my Fold 3, that didn’t work out particularly well. Dust slipped through during my first couple of months of use, and remained wedged in the hinge throughout the rest of the year, and is still there to this day, causing a little bump in the display […]
Even now, just days after Fold 4s have arrived on doorsteps, the crease-crack problem has already surfaced.
Display analyst Ross Young said earlier this year that there were no supply chain indications of work on a folding iPhone, and he now wasn’t expecting one before 2025. This was later backed by Ming-Chi Kuo, who additionally suggested that the first device might be a foldable iPad.
What’s an iPhone? What’s an iPad? What’s a Mac?
One of the key questions about Apple’s foldable plans is which of two approaches the company will take.
The first is the equivalent of the Fold: an iPhone that unfolds into an iPad. The second would be like the Motorola Razr: a big iPhone that folds down into a small iPhone. Most seem to be expecting the former approach.
But, just as Apple suggests that the iPad raises the question “What is a computer?”, so the Fold approach raises similar questions. Is such a device an iPhone that unfolds into an iPad, or an iPad that folds down into an iPhone?
Foldables could also further blur the line between iPads and Macs, as seen in the above Luna Display concept.
Folding iPad prediction
But what CSS is predicting is effectively a modest-sized iPad that unfolds into a large one. It says Apple will take this approach in order to avoid the risk of a Samsung-style disaster with its flagship product. CNBC reports:
“Right now it doesn’t make sense for Apple to make a foldable iPhone. We think they will shun that trend and probably dip a toe in the water with a foldable iPad,” Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, told CNBC in an interview.
“A folding iPhone will be super high risk […] If Apple had any technical issues with the foldable phone, then it would be a “feeding frenzy” with critics attacking Apple for the problems.
The company makes a less convincing argument that Apple would be worried about a folding device cannibalizing other sales.
There is an obvious risk that consumers decide they only need one device rather than two – but this is already the case. Large iPhones undoubtedly take business from the iPad mini, and the iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard similarly costs the company some MacBook sales. But Apple has always said that if it isn’t willing to cannibalize its own products, someone else will.
The firm also suggests that an eventual folding iPhone will be massively more expensive than even the top-end Pro Max models, predicting a price tag of $2,500.
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