Foldable Apple iPad rather than a foldable iPhone is slated to arrive in 2024, at least according to analyst group CCS Insight
Analyst group CCS Insight has made a surprising prediction about Apple’s potential move into the foldable device market in the next couple of years.
CCS Insight has said that Apple will buck the trend of foldable smartphones, but will instead likely launch an iPad with a folding screen in 2024.
Microsoft meanwhile have previously previewed its tablet sized Surface Neo device that offers dual screens, with a hinge in the middle.
However Microsoft has not brought it to market.
Instead it has released the Surface Duo (a smartphone sized folding device) that is currently on sale.
But now CCS Insight has predicted that Apple will soon join the folding technology movement, by offering a foldable device, namely an iPad with a folding screen in 2024.
The prediction came after CCS Insight published its annual predictions report on Tuesday, in which the group’ analysts make forecasts about future products and trends
In the latest report, CCS Insight predicted Apple would launch a foldable iPad in two years’ time rather than start with a foldable iPhone.
“Right now it doesn’t make sense for Apple to make a foldable iPhone,” Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, told CNBC in an interview. “We think they will shun that trend and probably dip a toe in the water with a foldable iPad.”
“A folding iPhone will be super high risk for Apple,” said Wood. “Firstly, it would have to be incredibly expensive in order to not cannibalise the existing iPhones.”
The analyst also said that a foldable iPhone would likely need to cost around $2,500. Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Max with the largest storage, which is the most expensive model currently, costs around $1,599.
Wood also said that if Apple had any technical issues with the foldable phone, then it would be a “feeding frenzy” with critics attacking Apple for the problems.
Still, Apple has “no option but to react because the trend toward foldables is gathering momentum,” Wood was quoted by CNBC as saying, hence the company will begin with an iPad.
Wood said it would give Apple a chance to learn how to implement and scale foldable screen technology as well as “breathe new life” into the iPad range.
Apple was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.
There has been previous speculation about Apple’s intentions with foldable products.
Back in February 2020 for example, Apple was granted a patent for a foldable device with a unique hinge mechanism, that triggered speculation the iPad maker was developing a folding iPhone handset.
That patent revealed it used a hinge that rather a folding screen per say. Indeed, Apple’s hinge mechanism would ensure adequate separation between the first and second portions of the display.
Essentially, when the device is unfolded (as per the patent), movable flaps would extend to cover the gap, and then retract when the device is folded back up.
Then in May 2021, an Apple watcher (TFI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo) predicted that Apple would likely launch a foldable iPhone in 2023.
Then earlier this year, market research firm Display Supply Chain Consultants said Apple was unlikely to enter the foldable smartphone market until 2025 at the earliest, CNBC reported.
However, the company said that Apple is exploring foldable technology for displays of around 20 inches in size. That could be focused on a new foldable notebook product, the market research company said.
Meanwhile CNBC also reported that CCS Insight has predicted that Apple will continue investing in its own chip design.
Currently, the Cupertino giant designs its own custom chips for iPhone and iPad. It relies on US chipmaker Qualcomm for modems that allow these devices to connect to mobile internet networks for 5G connectivity.
However, CCS Insight said that Apple is likely to integrate its own 5G modem into the A series of processor for a “single-chip” solution for iPhones in 2025.
In November 2021 it was reported that Apple will shake off its uneasy supplier relationship with Qualcomm and its 5G modems in its iPhones handsets. The report stated that Apple will from 2023 switch to its own iPhone 5G modem design, and the 4nm chips will be built by long serving partner TSMC.
The move is not unexpected. Apple has had a troubled history with iPhone modems, and in July 2019 it acquired Intel’s mobile modem business for $1 billion in an effort to set its own destiny for this vital component.
Modem bust up
The acquisition of Intel’s modem business gave Apple the necessary tools to design its own modems for iPhone devices to connect to 5G networks.
The Intel acquisition also signalled the gradual ending of an intensively uncomfortable relationship between Apple and Qualcomm.
Apple was forced to used Intel modems in its iPhones for a time, after a huge royalty payment bust up between Apple and Qualcomm in 2018.
In its lawsuit Qualcomm alleged Apple had developed an “intricate plan” to steal proprietary information and share it with Intel and others over a period of several years, in order to cut its own costs.
Apple in turn accused Qualcomm of abusing its market dominance, and said the fees Qualcomm charged were unfair.
At the same time Apple was never really happy with Intel (or maybe just its pricing), and in July 2018 Apple was reportedly considering moving away from using Intel’s 5G modems in future iPhone handsets.
Apple was also reportedly losing confidence in Intel’s ability to hit its deadline for the 5G modems (Apple it should be remembered was very late delivering a 5G compatible iPhone to market).
This lack of faith in Intel resulted in Apple surprising many in April 2019, when it kissed and made up with Qualcomm, and halted all legal action between the two.
That settlement saw Apple agreeing to make an undisclosed payment to Qualcomm, and to use Qualcomm’s modem chips going forward.
But Apple did not forget, and had other long-term plans, which CSS Insight has suggested are ongoing.