While it was at one point predicted that Apple would launch the first foldable iPhone in 2023 – something that obviously isn’t going to happen – it’s clearly a question of “when” rather than “if.”
2025 has been suggested as another possible date, and a new market intelligence report echoes this, forecasting that Apple will help boost folding smartphone shipments to 100M by 2027 …
As we’ve noted before, Apple has so far taken its usual approach to bleeding-edge technology: sit back and watch, let other companies make the mistakes, and launch only when it feels it can create something significantly better than its rivals.
Samsung provided a case study of the perils of launching a new technology too early, with the launch of the first Galaxy Fold model 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.
Things were still no better by the company’s fourth iteration of the device, with our sister site 9to5Google finding that the biggest flaw was still very much present: The screen cracked within days of arrival!
Samsung still hasn’t given up, yesterday launching the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Fold 5 – proudly proclaiming that its foldable phones are now almost as popular as… a product it discontinued due to low demand.
Back in 2021, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that Apple “could” launch the first foldable iPhone by 2023, but did add that this was contingent on the company being able to solve the practical challenges by then.
Display analyst Ross Young supported the idea that this has indeed originally been Apple’s plan, but last year said that 2025 is now a more likely date.
There seems little doubt that we will see a folding iPhone at some point – though it could be terrifyingly expensive. The consensus view now appears to be that Apple will first launch a foldable iPad, with a potential launch next year.
Foldable iPhone would boost segment to 100M by 2027
Market intelligence company Counterpoint Research also believes that 2025 is the year we’ll see the first foldable iPhone, its market forecast showing Apple to enter the market that year.
(The colors aren’t as clear as they could be, but Apple is the larger dark gray band that first appears in 2025.)
Counterpoint says that, based on this estimate, foldable phones could hit 21% of the premium smartphone segment – that is, phones costing more than $600 – by 2025, and 39% by 2027. This would see the folding phone segment worth $100M a year within two years of Apple’s entry.
The company predicts that Samsung will remain the biggest player, likely by virtue of having more than one folding model, while Apple’s own market share will rapidly increase.
Concept image: Michal Dufka
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