Apple to debut 8-inch foldable iPhone in 2023, Kuo says

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in Future Apple Hardware edited May 3
Apple is predicted to launch a foldable iPhone with 8-inch flexible OLED display sometime in 2023, with the company planning for shipments of as many as 20 million units that year, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

iPhone Fold


In a research note to investors, Kuo forecasts Apple's first foldable iPhone to boast an 8-inch QHD+ display, which at 3,200-by-1,800 pixels is a higher effective resolution panel than Samsung Fold's 7.3-inch QXGA+ screen. QHD+ displays also feature a perfect 16:9 aspect ratio, a deviation from the current 19.5:9 ratio seen on both iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro.

Whether the upcoming iPhone will fold horizontally or vertically was left unmentioned in Monday's report.

"Our latest survey indicates that the fast-growing foldable smartphone market has become a must-have for all major smartphone brands," Kuo writes. "The foldable smartphone will boost the next super replacement cycle for high-end models."

Apple is expected to manufacture between 15 million and 20 million foldable iPhone units in 2023. When the handset will see launch is unknown, though the relatively low production estimate suggests a debut alongside traditional iPhone formats in the fall.

Samsung Display is anticipated to act as Apple's exclusive display supplier, while Samsung Foundry will handle display driver ICs, Kuo said. Previous rumors pointed to a partnership with LG Display, with reports as recently as February claiming Apple tapped the company to assist in the development of foldable screen technology. At the time, it was unclear if LG would ultimately supply hardware for a production version of the foldable.

While Samsung will supply panels and driving circuitry for the future iPhone, it is not expected to manage the handset's touch solution, according to Kuo. Instead of Samsung's Y-Octa technology, Apple is predicted to use TPK's silver nanowire touch solution. TPK tech is durable and capable of supporting multiple folds and rollable displays and medium to large screen sizes, Kuo notes.

HomePod's touch panel utilizes a silver nanowire touch solution, though it is unclear if TPK is the supplier.

Looking ahead, Kuo believes permutations of foldable designs could permeate through Apple's product line.

"At present, the product position of foldable smartphones is mainly to integrate the smartphone and tablet. But we believe that the foldable smartphone is only one of the applications of the foldable design," Kuo said. "We predict that foldable devices will blur the product segmentations between smartphones, tablets, and laptops in the future. With its cross-product ecosystems and hardware design advantages, Apple will be the biggest winner in the new foldable device trend."

After years of sporadic rumors, Apple's ambitions in the foldable smartphone segment are slowly becoming clear as market competitors like Samsung release second-generation versions of their own designs. Kuo in March said Apple might launch a 7.5- to 8-inch foldable in 2023 if it can hammer out production issues related to the advanced technology this year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,336moderator

    For Apple to offer a foldable phone, there still exists some real challenges:

    Appropriate hardware technology would have to be available.  

    First, the display would need to be covered with a non-malleable and scratch-resistant surface; there’s little chance Apple would return to a malleable and markable, plastic display cover.  The challenge is that the necessary display properties are, of course, incompatible with folding and are likely to remain so.  

    Next, the phone when folded will need to be as ready to hand, and pocket, as current iPhones, to which any foldable iPhone, in folded configuration, will be ruthlessly compared.

    Next there’s the reliability aspect.  iPhones, and high-end Android phones, are all very solidly constructed these days, with few or no moving parts.  But that doesn’t imply even today’s phones are free of physical wear and tear or immune to extreme conditions.  Extreme cold or heat will be significant issues to account for in selecting materials and designing folding phones to yield a similar lifespan compared to their non-folding counterparts.  For iPhones that implies a five- or six-year lifespan.  Not to mention tensile stresses of the folding process itself.

    The only viable solution my limited brain can conceive is two separate displays, each pressed up hard against a lip on a hinge to prevent dust or cookie crumbs intruding.  As the phone unfolds, at the last part of the arc, that lip recedes, allowing the two screen edges to come together perfectly, leaving not a single pixel width gap between.  How incredibly precise would such a mechanism need to be... boggles the mind.  But if it worked, every time, for five or six years, it would allow two glass-covered displays to perfectly come together as one, without a visible seam.  

    Finally, Apple would need to do one more thing that others have not yet accomplished.  Apple would need to determine the reason such a needlessly complex handset should exist.  That’s where I take my bet off the table.  I’m betting Apple goes a different direction. 

    williamlondonlolliverrundhvidqwerty52BeatslongpathtjwolfAppleZuluzigzaglensStrangeDays
  • Reply 2 of 47
    The thought occurs to me that this is where the so called "obsession with thinness" finally pays off.

    So far, the folded phones seem a bit thick for pocketing, but if each half is even thinner than the thinnest iPhone, then the folded thickness would be less of a concern. (Then again, even the thinnest wallets that can still hold cash and a good number of cards aren't exactly slim, so I guess it's all relative).

    The larger concern I have is regarding the lifespan of the fold/seam, but if that can be properly addressed, then it would be a good time to consider a foldable phone.
    d_2watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 47
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,581member
    If you no longer need a case that might be a draw to some. I like wallet cases and don’t think this will work. 
    DaRevwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 47
    You know what needs bigger screen and has way less screen damage..? Laptops.
    Beatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 47
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 9,262member
    It seems Apple will need to either catch up or give up.   Foldable phones are coming.   Or, maybe they are here already.  Regardless, in either case, they are not going away.

    Huawei Mate X2: Mastering the folding phone formula

    "Huawei has revealed the third iteration of its folding smartphone, abandoning its previous designs and taking some inspiration from Samsung.

    This time, the folding display on the Mate X2 is protected inside the phone.

    BBC Click's Chris Fox went hands-on with the phone and described it as the best folding phone so far - but it still lacks Google services, which lets it down for UK consumers."

    https://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-56945791

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The lines between the different product categories in the world of computers are becoming increasingly grey:

    --  Laptops long ago began to challenge desktops for speed and capacity.   Now tablets are starting to challenge laptops in the same way.

    --  The iPad is challenging the Mac as a laptop as a functional alternative (while 2 in 1's have already merged the two products into one)

    --  Now smart phones are challenging the tablet world.   This Huawei folding phone provides the same screen real estate as an iPad mini -- in a form factor you can carry in your pocket.

    Meanwhile, Apple continues to try to keep the old rigid lines between categories and has only yielded grudgingly to blurring the line between tablet and laptop.  But, soon it will be facing pressure to blur the line between phone and tablet.

    But, that can't last.   Just as soft moving water wears away the hardest rock, moving technology wears away the hardest purity tests.
    Perhaps the analogy is Steve Jobs insistence on keeping the iPhone small -- because he thought of his iPhone primarily as a phone rather than a computer. But the world of technology didn't wait.   It moved on to large screened phones and Apple, with the iPhone 6, was forced to surrender and join the wave...




    edited May 3
  • Reply 6 of 47
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,689member
    It seems Apple will need to either catch up or give up.   Foldable phones are coming.   Or, maybe they are here already.  Regardless, in either case, they are not going away.

    Huawei Mate X2: Mastering the folding phone formula

    Huawei has revealed the third iteration of its folding smartphone, abandoning its previous designs and taking some inspiration from Samsung.

    This time, the folding display on the Mate X2 is protected inside the phone.

    BBC Click's Chris Fox went hands-on with the phone and described it as the best folding phone so far - but it still lacks Google services, which lets it down for UK consumers.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-56945791




    Yes, consensus is that the Mate X2 is the folding phone of the moment and the phone that reviewers would keep today if it weren't for the price. Even winning over reviewers who saw little need for folding phones previously.

    There haven't been any noticeable problems with fold or screen durability and this latest generation doesn't really have any design compromises from being foldable. They fall more into line with simple design choices.

    For bi-fold models we will probably variants with the three major folding options (inward, outward and flip).

    It is rumoured that Huawei has three more folding phones ready for the second half of the year and that prices will start coming down.

    A lot of the comments in this earlier thread

    https://forums.appleinsider.com/discussion/220264/huawei-debuts-mate-x2-folding-phone-starting-at-eye-popping-2-785/p1

    on 'solutions looking for a problem' now look very premature.

    Apple will have competing devices sitting in its labs, dissected and analysed but 2023 is a long way off and by then folding phones will simply be another option.

    https://www.androidauthority.com/huawei-mate-x2-review-1210103/
    muthuk_vanalingamBeats
  • Reply 7 of 47
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,369member
    Honestly I'd rather see a folding iPad with all of the troublesome IPad restrictions or short comings removed.   Either that or go the same route with iPhone and provide us with a real I/O port like the iPad and again deal with the iOS restrictions.

    Currently I see my Iphone as nothing more than a smart phone.   Refactor the machine with a large screen, a decent and accessible I/O port and deal with IOS and I could see iPhone becoming a viable laptop replacement that fits in my pocket.    Right now iPhone has zero potential to do that.
  • Reply 8 of 47
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,101member
    If Apple does release this it will be a revolutionary product or even a new invention and DONE RIGHT.

    The usual iKnockoff morons will claim Apple copied Samsung even though it was in development forever and done right.

    Theres no reason for a foldable iPhone. If Apple releases this it will have features we haven’t dreamed of.
    mac_dogqwerty52watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 47
    qwerty52qwerty52 Posts: 284member
    wizard69 said:
    Honestly I'd rather see a folding iPad with all of the troublesome IPad restrictions or short comings removed.   Either that or go the same route with iPhone and provide us with a real I/O port like the iPad and again deal with the iOS restrictions.

    Currently I see my Iphone as nothing more than a smart phone.   Refactor the machine with a large screen, a decent and accessible I/O port and deal with IOS and I could see iPhone becoming a viable laptop replacement that fits in my pocket.    Right now iPhone has zero potential to do that.

    Absolutely right!
    My iPhonne for me, it is just a phone! Why should I need a giant display on it? To do what?
    To call somebody………..?
    For my productivity, there are much better and more useable devices to use: iPad, MacBook Pro, desktops……….
    edited May 3 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 47
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,634member
    I'll believe it when I see it, and not a second before.  And I'm 99% sure I still won't buy it.
    mac_doglkrupp
  • Reply 11 of 47
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,689member
    Beats said:
    If Apple does release this it will be a revolutionary product or even a new invention and DONE RIGHT.

    The usual iKnockoff morons will claim Apple copied Samsung even though it was in development forever and done right.

    Theres no reason for a foldable iPhone. If Apple releases this it will have features we haven’t dreamed of.
    Of course there are reasons for foldable phones.

    Have you ever wondered why anything folds?

    So, let's set the folding aspect aside for a second. What possible function that we haven't dreamt of could find itself on Apple's version and not be applicable to Apple's non folding phones?

    Patents? Do you think that only Apple thought of folding phones and patented an idea?

    By your own baseless definition, Apple will become a knockoff merchant of folding phones. You'll have to live with that irony.

    Not that anyone will care because it just doesn't matter. If you think there is a market for folding phones, why not cater to it? 

    Apple will have learnt from previous and existing ideas. It will have dissected current and past folding phones. It will have its own ideas too. 



    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 12 of 47
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 878member
    avon b7 said:
    Beats said:
    If Apple does release this it will be a revolutionary product or even a new invention and DONE RIGHT.

    The usual iKnockoff morons will claim Apple copied Samsung even though it was in development forever and done right.

    Theres no reason for a foldable iPhone. If Apple releases this it will have features we haven’t dreamed of.
    Of course there are reasons for foldable phones.

    Have you ever wondered why anything folds?

    So, let's set the folding aspect aside for a second. What possible function that we haven't dreamt of could find itself on Apple's version and not be applicable to Apple's non folding phones?

    Patents? Do you think that only Apple thought of folding phones and patented an idea?

    By your own baseless definition, Apple will become a knockoff merchant of folding phones. You'll have to live with that irony.

    Not that anyone will care because it just doesn't matter. If you think there is a market for folding phones, why not cater to it? 

    Apple will have learnt from previous and existing ideas. It will have dissected current and past folding phones. It will have its own ideas too. 

    So…basically what @beats said, but with an air of superiority. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 47
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,689member
    mac_dog said:
    avon b7 said:
    Beats said:
    If Apple does release this it will be a revolutionary product or even a new invention and DONE RIGHT.

    The usual iKnockoff morons will claim Apple copied Samsung even though it was in development forever and done right.

    Theres no reason for a foldable iPhone. If Apple releases this it will have features we haven’t dreamed of.
    Of course there are reasons for foldable phones.

    Have you ever wondered why anything folds?

    So, let's set the folding aspect aside for a second. What possible function that we haven't dreamt of could find itself on Apple's version and not be applicable to Apple's non folding phones?

    Patents? Do you think that only Apple thought of folding phones and patented an idea?

    By your own baseless definition, Apple will become a knockoff merchant of folding phones. You'll have to live with that irony.

    Not that anyone will care because it just doesn't matter. If you think there is a market for folding phones, why not cater to it? 

    Apple will have learnt from previous and existing ideas. It will have dissected current and past folding phones. It will have its own ideas too. 

    So…basically what @beats said, but with an air of superiority. 
    What beats said doesn't make any sense to me. I'll wait for a decent explanation because I'm stumped at the moment.

    My questions are simple. 
    MplsPGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 14 of 47
    leighrleighr Posts: 217member
    The problem is that people have much higher expectations of Apple. We expect Samsung phones to be rubbish, poorly built, and for the folding seam to give way after 6-12 months. That’s Samsung, that’s what we expect.  But if Apple delivered such a device, its customers, let alone the media, would not tolerate it (even though the media quite happily accepts Samsung’s “it’s not meant to be touched roughly or with fingernails” caveat). So, until the technology exists for Apple to do it properly, they won’t do it - that’s what Samsung is for. 
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 47
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 369member
    "Our latest survey indicates that the fast-growing foldable smartphone market has become a must-have for all major smartphone brands," - to this I'd have two responses: (1) without giving volume statistics, "fast-growing" is pretty meaningless: if one folding phone sold one year and two sold the next, we'd have "amazing" 100% foldable smartphone market growth....(2) it has become  "must-have" for Android phone makers flailing about trying to compete with Apple at the high end.  Foldable phones are the current tech they hope will "stick to the wall".

    @Radarthecat above expressed my views better than I would have.  I would only add one additional observation for why I don't think Apple will go this route: there really isn't a large enough market for such a device to make it worthwhile for Apple.  The single most expensive part of a phone is the screen.  A foldable iPhone would essentially be two screens' worth of "cost" to Apple.  Apple would, of course, pass that cost on to consumers.  How many people would pay $2,000 for a foldable phone when, most times, the phone will remain folded and only one of the screens get used?

    My personal view is that Apple will (or at least should) keep its focus on its AR development.  With AR glasses, the need for a larger screen would not exist.  Heck, eventually the need for a screen, period, would not longer exist.  Eventually, the iPhone will just become this ever more powerful controller - that stays in your pocket.
    radarthekatfastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 47
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,533member
    leighr said:
    The problem is that people have much higher expectations of Apple. We expect Samsung phones to be rubbish, poorly built, and for the folding seam to give way after 6-12 months. That’s Samsung, that’s what we expect.  But if Apple delivered such a device, its customers, let alone the media, would not tolerate it (even though the media quite happily accepts Samsung’s “it’s not meant to be touched roughly or with fingernails” caveat). So, until the technology exists for Apple to do it properly, they won’t do it - that’s what Samsung is for. 

    You've captured my thoughts exactly. If Apple releases a foldable phone it will because they have figured out how to do it properly and without any major compromises. This is a formula that's worked pretty well for Apple over the years.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 47
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,009member
    NO NO NO NO NO
  • Reply 18 of 47
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,498member
    Well with an eight inch screen this might explain why the iPad Mini hasn’t been updated. It’ll be replaced with this. 

    It seems Apple will need to either catch up or give up.   Foldable phones are coming.   Or, maybe they are here already.  Regardless, in either case, they are not going away.
    Possibly, but I remember people saying the same thing about 3DTV. In your pocket a folded 8 inch phone offers no size advantage over a regular phone. You have the added complexity, and failure rate of the screen. Then you don’t have the solid once piece seamless screen of an iPad. They may come, but I won’t be in line to get one. YMMV but I see no advantage to one.
    edited May 3 watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 47
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 915member
    Seems like a “solution” looking for a problem. Despite Kuo’s oft-promoted reputation, I too will believe this one when I’ve seen it. 

    I’m more convinced that Tim Cook & Co. have a counter-industrial-espionage program going and get a good laugh when Kuo takes the bait and issues a research note based on it. The question is how oft this has to happen before the pronouncements that Kuo is more accurate than most are seen more as sarcastic than laudatory. 
    edited May 3 radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 47
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 2,939member
    qwerty52 said:
    wizard69 said:
    Honestly I'd rather see a folding iPad with all of the troublesome IPad restrictions or short comings removed.   Either that or go the same route with iPhone and provide us with a real I/O port like the iPad and again deal with the iOS restrictions.

    Currently I see my Iphone as nothing more than a smart phone.   Refactor the machine with a large screen, a decent and accessible I/O port and deal with IOS and I could see iPhone becoming a viable laptop replacement that fits in my pocket.    Right now iPhone has zero potential to do that.

    Absolutely right!
    My iPhonne for me, it is just a phone! Why should I need a giant display on it? To do what?
    To call somebody………..?
    For my productivity, there are much better and more useable devices to use: iPad, MacBook Pro, desktops……….
    I had the same thought. Fold the iPad at 90 (or 70°) so the screen keyboard is on the table and the rest is upright. Then you have a more usable form without a separate keyboard. On top of thatX it has the same key travel as the butterfly keyboard without spending an extra $300!
    qwerty52
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