Apple’s future MacBook could be one big (foldable) screen

Closed MacBook Pro 16-inch on wooden table in modern office
(Image credit: Future)

Apple could be preparing to develop a very different MacBook in the future, in the guise of a foldable device, if the latest chatter from the grapevine is correct.

Obviously all MacBooks fold in half, but when we say a foldable, we do, of course, refer to a laptop which is simply one big display that folds in the middle, and this is what analyst Ross Young (of Display Supply Chain Consultants, or DSCC) believes that Apple is now researching.

In a newly released report flagged by MacRumors, Young claims that Apple may have delayed a rumored foldable ‌iPhone‌ until 2025, and that the company is also currently exploring the potential of said foldable MacBook. However, the latter wouldn’t be expected to arrive until perhaps 2026 or 2027 even, so we’re looking way down the line here.

The overall suggestion is that Apple is keen not to rush into foldables – previously its foldable iPhone was thought to perhaps be a prospect for as soon as next year – but that a MacBook along the lines of a 20-inch model is being mulled.

So, what we’d have would be a 20-inch screen that folds, and could be used with one half as a virtual touch keyboard in laptop mode, or when at a desk, you could use the entire display with a physical keyboard and mouse (perhaps via a docking station), effectively making it a 20-inch monitor (likely with a 4K resolution, or better, Young theorizes).

Analysis: Foldable plans are one thing, but a real product is very much another

Naturally, this is speculation which should be regarded with extra care, although Young has proved a reliable source in the past. Don’t get us wrong, it’s easy to believe Apple is looking at the feasibility of a foldable MacBook along these lines, but as outlined in the report, it’s very early days.

Apple will constantly be exploring lots of avenues for different categories of hardware. Indeed, we’ve lost count of the amount of patents and laptop concepts that we’ve seen from the MacBook maker which diverge from the traditional keyboard base, like dual-screen implementations with a virtual OLED keyboard or one using haptic feedback to feel like a real keyboard, or a retractable keyboard, to pick a few examples over past years.

It’s the job of design boffins at Apple to come up with these kinds of concepts, some of which may make the prototype stage, but many might be discarded even before that process begins. That could hold true for the current iPhone idea, as well as a MacBook foldable.

Remember, foldable phones are still pricey and remain something of a niche category – dominated very much by Samsung – but that said, DSCC forecasts major growth in this arena. Young tweeted that foldable phone shipments will double over the course of 2022 compared to last year, with Samsung planning to produce in excess of 14 million handsets.

So, while the appetite for foldable devices seems to be increasing, and certainly an iPhone may seem like a logical move – eventually – the jury is still very much out, for us, in terms of bringing this concept to the MacBook.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).