If you're a committed Apple user like me, you probably responded to the gorgeous new OnePlus Open folding phone with a sigh and a thought of "I wish Apple made that". A new report says you'll get your wish as early as next year.
We've been hearing reports of a folding iPad for a couple of years now, and Apple patented a folding dual-screen device in 2021. Now two sources – trade publication DigiTimes and respected industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo – suggest it could be on sale as early as 2024.
It's important to read the small print, though: for example the DigiTimes report says that small scale production is "likely" to begin at the end of 2024 "at the earliest" with mass production beginning in 2025, while Kuo also uses the "likely" caveat. And production begins some time before launch, so we could still be looking at a 2025 release date. But whether it's a late 2024 or early 2025 release, it's very exciting.
Who wants a folding iPad anyway?
We have slightly different opinions on foldables here at T3. My esteemed colleague Sam reckons that folding tablets are more desirable than folding phones because of their sheer size: "Imagine a device that is around the size of the iPad Mini when folded, but expands out to be bigger than a 15-inch MacBook Air screen." Whereas I'm more of a folding phone fan, not least because I've seen the price of a 12.9-inch iPad Pro so a bigger, foldable iPad is likely to be incredibly expensive.
What we're both agreed on, though, is that foldability is a good thing. And while details of Apple's version are still very sketchy, the latest folding phones show how far the technology has come in a very short space of time in terms of screen quality, design and toughness. And while it hasn't launched a folding device yet, Apple has been busy designing such products for several years now.
The reason we haven't seen a folding iPad yet is because they're still currently too complex: Apple is reportedly focusing heavily on simplification to try and bring the manufacturing costs down and manufacturing yields up. As DigiTimes reports, "the development key in Apple's first foldable product lies in the panel and hinges... Apple remains concerned about the panel crease, but panel manufacturers have been able to make the crease not as noticeable to consumers through mechanical designs."