Apple's long-rumored foldable iPhone could finally be released next year, according to multiple reports.
According to display analyst Ross Young, who often provides accurate insights into Apple's plans, Apple could introduce its foldable iPhone in 2023, but he cautioned that 2024 is a more likely timeframe for the launch of the new device.
Rumors about a foldable iPhone have died down in recent months, but there continues to be evidence that Apple is working on prototypes of foldable devices. In September 2020, it was suggested that Samsung had provided foldable display samples to Apple for testing purposes, and there have also been reports that Apple is working with LG Display. Apple patent filings show that the company is researching crack-resistant foldable displays, and there have been various rumors about internal durability tests related to the device.
In May 2021, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple was planning to launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch flexible OLED display in 2023, a prediction mostly mirrored by global technology research firm Omdia, but he suggested that a 2024 launch is more likely late last year. Bloomberg in January 2021 said that Apple had started "early work" on a foldable iPhone, but development at the time had not expanded beyond a display.
Going forward, Kuo believes that foldable smartphones are going to become a "must-have" for all major smartphone brands. Samsung leads the way so far with multiple iterations of foldable smartphones, such as the Galaxy Z Fold3. Early Galaxy Fold devices were riddled with issues, but Samsung has now had three years to iron out problems with little competition. In fact, Samsung's "obsession" with foldables is said to have eclipsed the company's work on augmented reality and virtual reality.
If Apple does opt to come out with a foldable smartphone in 2023 or 2024, it will need to compete with Samsung, a company that now has several years of expertise with foldable devices. Kuo previously said that Apple will need to solve "key technology and mass production issues" to launch a foldable iPhone by 2023, so it would be unsurprising if the technology is delayed until 2024. Even so, it remains a possibility that 2023 could be the year that the foldable iPhone finally takes off. For more information about Apple's foldable iPhone, see our detailed guide.