The foldable iPhone could be incredibly expensive – and land after a foldable iPad

iPad Pro 12.9 2021
An iPad Pro 12.9 2021 (Image credit: TechRadar)

We’re already up to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, but the first foldable iPhone might still be years away, with a new report suggesting that it won’t land before 2025 at the earliest, with a foldable iPad instead landing first, in 2024.

That’s according to analyst firm CCS Insight (via CNBC), which argues that right now, a foldable tablet makes more sense for Apple than a foldable phone.

Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, told CNBC that there are two reasons for this. Firstly, a foldable iPhone "would have to be incredibly expensive in order to not cannibalize the existing iPhones,” with the firm predicting a price of at least $2,500 (around £2,220 / AU$3,970).

Secondly, there’s a chance that Apple’s first foldable device will have technical issues, and Apple wouldn’t want to risk that with a device as high profile as an iPhone, since it could lead to a “feeding frenzy” from critics.

Yet Wood does think a foldable device of some kind is coming, “because the trend toward foldables is gathering momentum.” And as well as a foldable iPad being a lower risk proposition than a foldable iPhone, it would also help “breathe new life” into the iPad range.

These are broadly compelling arguments, but it sounds like they’re more educated guesses than inside information, so we’d certainly take all of this with a pinch of salt.

Still, plenty of sources and even patents suggest that Apple is exploring foldable devices, so it’s likely only a matter of time before one gets released, be it a phone or a tablet, and it’s also obvious that whatever foldable Apple does launch will be extremely expensive.

Apple iPad Pro 2022 range with Magic Keyboard

The iPad Pro 2022 doesn't seem like much of an upgrade (Image credit: Apple)

Analysis: ahead of the game on tablets

While not mentioned here, a foldable tablet could also prove a very compelling option for buyers, as it’s something that other companies aren’t yet offering.

If Apple does launch a foldable iPad in 2024 then it will likely be among the first companies to offer a foldable slate, so it probably won’t have much competition.

The iPad line is also arguably in more need of fresh ideas than the iPhone. This year Apple offered a new design for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, coupled with new forms of interaction powered by the Dynamic Island, but for the iPad Pro 2022, which was just announced, the most significant change was simply a new chipset, making that a rather boring upgrade.

For now, the best iPads rank among the best tablets, but Apple will need to shake things up sooner or later if it’s going to maintain its top tablet position.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.