Apple's first foldable MacBook could have a massive 18.76-inch display for one good reason

Macs with foldable displays are expected to arrive in 2026

MacBook Air (M3, 2024) review
(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)
Quick Summary

Apple is reportedly working on a MacBook with a foldable screen for release in 2026 with a display size of just under 19 inches.

That means that when folded it'll be roughly the size of the 13-inch MacBook Air.

Two new reports have revealed key details of Apple's forthcoming foldable-display Mac, which is expected to launch in 2026 with an M5 processor inside. And both reports focus on the most important part of that laptop: its screen.

First off the blocks was Ming-Chi Kuo, who reported that Apple was revising its plans downwards. After initially planning to use a 20.25-inch folding display in the laptop, Kuo says, Apple is going for a slightly smaller 18.76 inches. 

That report was soon followed by another from display analyst Ross Young, whose track record in display-related stories has been very good. According to Young, Kuo is correct: the folding MacBook will sport an 18.76-inch display.

What does that slightly smaller screen mean?

A slightly smaller screen means a slightly smaller Mac, and this particular model is now expected to be roughly the same size as the 13-inch MacBook Air. The larger 20-plus display would have meant a size closer to the 15-inch one, which of course is marginally less portable due to its larger size.

One of the interesting questions raised by this laptop is how Apple is going to change macOS X for it. At the moment Apple has iPadOS for touch and macOS for keyboards, trackpads and mice, and never the twain shall meet. Making macOS more touch-friendly is clearly possible, but the devil is in the detail here not just for the folding Mac but for all Macs. 

If as expected this new Mac runs macOS X, Apple will need to change its OS quite considerably to make it touch-friendly. Touch input typically requires larger interactive elements such as buttons and other interface items, so for example the three circular icons at the top left of every macOS window are perfectly clickable but far too fiddly for fingers. 

And that means there's a balance to be struck here. Unless Apple intends to have a separate version of macOS for its foldable, which seems unlikely, it'll need to strike the balance between touch and trackpad interactions in a way that's satisfying for both kinds of users.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).