With Samsung, Motorola and others pushing ahead with new versions of their foldable phones, we're patiently waiting for Apple to unveil a foldable iPhone – but it seems we might still have to wait a good few years for it to make an appearance.
Seasoned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is usually an accurate source of Apple information ahead of time, says that he's revising his earlier prediction of a foldable iPhone launch in 2024. Kuo now thinks it'll be 2025 at the earliest before such a device shows up.
While that's going to disappoint those of us waiting for the iPhone to adopt the latest in smartphone innovation, it fits in with Apple's previous approach of waiting for a technology to be refined and perfected before adding it to their own products.
I expected Apple to launch a foldable iPhone as soon as 2024 in my reports last year, but now it's clear this prediction needs to be revised. I predict Apple may launch its first foldable product in 2025 at the earliest, which may be a foldable iPad or a hybrid of iPad & iPhone. https://t.co/HGIDPFvdarApril 1, 2022
Screen size matters
Kuo was responding to earlier reports that Apple is thinking about using LG screens to make a foldable MacBook or iPad. According to the analyst, Apple is prioritizing "medium" foldable screens first, before moving on to larger and smaller ones.
A folding display measuring 9 inches is already in testing at Apple, Kuo says, though that screen size might not end up on a final product. He adds that the first folding Apple product might in fact be some kind of iPhone and iPad hybrid device.
The 2025 prediction fits in neatly with rumors we heard back in February: those rumors suggested that Apple was in no hurry to enter the foldable smartphone market, and might well wait past 2025 to launch its first folding device into the world.
Analysis: a slow revolution
There's no doubt that foldable smartphones have lots of appeal. They do everything today's smartphones can do, but they give you the option of a tablet-sized screen that's better for watching movies, playing games and multitasking – while still being small enough to fit in your pocket when they're closed.
At the same time there are currently several barriers to entry. There just aren't that many of them around right now, questions remain over the durability of the mechanics, and – this is perhaps the key factor – they tend to cost an awful lot of money.
With the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4 due later this year, Samsung will be on the fourth iteration of its foldable smartphones. That should mean devices that are longer lasting than ever, and we're hopeful that they're going to be more affordable too.
However, more phone makers are going to have to join the party for the foldable phone revolution to start gathering some fresh momentum. With Apple apparently not dipping its toes into the waters until 2025 at least, we might have to look to Google for the next bit of impetus: the Pixel Fold is rumored to be arriving later this year.
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.