Folding iPad launch next year, says Kuo, ahead of a folding iPhone

After years of rumors, noted Apple analyst says that he is “positive” a folding iPad launch is happening sometime next year.

This is significantly earlier than a previous – and vaguer – prediction of a folding “notebook” of some kind in 2026 …

Folding iPhone rumors

Rumors of a folding iPhone go back many years. As is usually the case with new tech, however, Apple has been in no hurry to launch – taking its usual approach of letting other companies be first to market as the Cupertino company figures out how to do a better job.

Samsung did an excellent job of illustrating the huge risk of jumping in too early, with the launch of the first Galaxy Fold model in 2019 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.

Folding iPad expected first

Two notable analysts have mostly been in agreement that a folding iPad will likely launch ahead of a folding iPhone.

Display analyst Ross Young said last year that there were no supply chain indications of work on a folding iPhone, and he 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, with CCS Insight also supporting this view.

Kuo now says folding iPad launch in 2024

Kuo has today tweeted that he is “positive” about the launch of a folding iPad next year.

I’m taking a cautious approach to iPad shipments for 2023, predicting a YoY decline of 10-15%. Nevertheless, I’m positive about the foldable iPad in 2024 and expect this new model will boost shipments and improve the product mix.

My latest survey indicates that the foldable iPad will feature a carbon fiber kickstand. Carbon fiber material will make the kickstand lighter and more durable.

Both Kuo and Young base their predictions on supply chain intelligence. They spend a lot of time on the ground in China talking to both existing and potential Apple suppliers, trying to make sense of orders received by those companies – both confirmed and in discussion.

In this case, Kuo appears to have talked to Apple supplier Suzhou Anjie Technology, which is said to be working on a carbon fiber stand for a folding iPad.

Anjie Technology, as a polishing and bonding supplier of the carbon fiber kickstand for the foldable iPad, is expected to continue benefiting from the growing trend of foldable devices equipped with kickstands in the future.

This is significantly ahead of the schedule previously suggested by Young, who said a year ago that Apple was working on some kind of “folding notebook” for 2026 or 2027. Young’s report didn’t state whether this device would be an iPad, a MacBook , or a hybrid device.

9to5Mac’s Take

As mentioned, rumors of Apple foldables date back many years. While both Kuo and Young have good track records, they are still working on the basis of piecing together clues from suppliers who may or may not have an accurate picture of Apple’s plans.

We don’t know exactly what is meant by the term “folding iPad,” but one thing seems rather clear: the folded size will be bigger than an iPhone. If it were iPhone sized when folded, and iPad size when unfolded, that’s a device that would more likely be described as a folding iPhone.

That being the case, we can likely expect something that unfolds into a larger-size screen than the current maximum iPad size of 12.9 inches. One of Young’s reports suggested a device that unfolds into a 20-inch screen. His expectation was that it could operate in a laptop mode, with the bottom screen forming a virtual keyboard, and then opened out into a double-size screen.

We’ll need to wait for far more concrete supply chain reports before this latest report can be considered more than a continuation of the foldable rumors, however, albeit from an educated source.

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