Apple has been one brand conspicuous by its absence from the foldable segment of the smartphone industry. Forecasts by analysts have been all over the map and usually reliable TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is on record stating that a foldable iPhone or iPad could surface sometime next year
. Kuo later changed his prediction saying that Apple
is testing a 9-inch foldable for release no earlier than 2025.
Samsung might have better sources inside Apple than Kuo
Samsung might have more insider connections to Apple than Kuo considering that it supplies Apple with 82% of the AMOLED displays used on the iPhone 14 series, and 100% of the panels employed on the iPhone 14 Pro Max. When it comes to the iPhone 14 line, LG Display is responsible for 12% of the screens while 6% of the panels are sourced from China’s BOE. So when Samsung’s Mobile Experience business unit says that it expects Apple to produce a foldable tablet or notebook for release in 2024, we have to give the comment some weight.
Foldable iPad concept posted by Lets Go Digital a few years ago
Note that Samsung says that it expects Apple to produce a foldable tablet by 2024, not a foldable iPhone. This would seem to jive with Kuo’s comment about Apple testing a 9-inch foldable. And with Samsung calling for a 2024 release and Kuo mentioning 2025, the product might be ready for the public in two to three years.
It was all part of a meeting held last month between Sammy and its suppliers that took place during the third week of October. According to The Elec
, at the confab, Samsung said that the foldable market is so strong that the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for these devices will be 80% up to 2025. That’s very strong growth! The company also noted that in South Korea (where Samsung is based), iPhone users in their 20s and 30s are switching to one of Samsung’s foldable phones at a rate three to four times higher than before.
It also is encouraging for Samsung that up to 90% of foldable smartphone owners say that they plan to stick with a foldable for their next smartphone purchase. And with foldables making up only 1% of the current smartphone market, the potential for this segment of the market is huge. Currently, Samsung produces the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4; the former opens like a book allowing users to switch from a 6.2-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.6-inch screen.
Samsung would like to see these improvements from its suppliers
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a clamshell foldable that sits quietly in your pocket until a smartphone is needed. The user flips open the device to reveal a 6.7-inch display. And last summer there was talk of Samsung creating a foldable tablet
. Unlike the current two devices that start small and open up to reveal a larger screen, a foldable Galaxy Tab would start big and open up to become even bigger.
Samsung made a list of improvements that it would like to see from its suppliers. Perhaps the number one request from Samsung is for its suppliers to come up with a way to eliminate the crease that still appears at the spot where foldable screens fold. Samsung
also wants to make these phones with new materials that would allow them to be thinner and lighter, add improvements to the cameras, add stronger haptics, and more.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 weighs 263 grams which makes it heavier than the iPhone 14 Pro (206 grams) and the iPhone 14 Pro Max (240 grams). There is a fine line between making a phone heavy enough to feel durable and making it too heavy so that it feels like a brick. This is why Samsung would like its suppliers to come up with new materials that are both durable and lighter.
Samsung would like to create a silo to house the S Pen on the Galaxy Z Fold 5
It also wants to provide a silo for the S Pen similar to what was available on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. The original game plan called for the Galaxy Z Fold 4 to offer a built-in home for the S Pen, but this idea was given the kibosh by Samsung. Also shot down due to weight and thickness limitations was the plan to use higher-end camera modules on the latest Fold model. The company’s goal is to make its foldables as durable as its flagship handsets.
Also discussed during the meeting was the necessity for developers to create more software for the Galaxy Z Fold 4 that will fit with the 21.6:18 aspect ratio of the larger internal display. Any improvements will have to wait for the second half of next year when the next-gen Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 are expected to be released.