Apple’s folding iPhone tipped to be a big hit, when it finally arrives

The folding iPhone could "significantly disrupt" the market when it launches, but don't rush to the Apple Store just yet

A still image of a primtive foldable iPhone design, taking a picture of a plant
(Image credit: 科技美学)

Apple's long-rumoured folding iPhone will be a big hit, but you'll have to wait for it. That's according to Taiwanese research company Trendforce, which says that the folding iPhone won't arrive until at least 2027 – but when it does its impact will be seismic.

That's a safe prediction to make, because of course whenever Apple enters a new category it does so with considerable market power. But Trendforce is putting some numbers in its predictions: it says that in 2024 the folding phone market is only 1.5% of the smartphone market. By 2028, with some help from Apple, it'll be 4.8%. That might not sound like much but it represents millions of folding phones – and it's likely to mean shrinking market share for Samsung, which is currently the market leader.

What will the folding iPhone do to the foldables market?

According to Trendforce, Samsung's share of the folding market has dropped significantly since other firms have moved into the market sector. Samsung had 80% of the fledgling folding phone market in 2022, but Trendforce says that its market share dropped to 60% in 2023/4 and the firm "now struggles to maintain 50%". 

Key rivals so far are Huawei and Motorola, with other firms remaining below the million-sales mark; Huawei's tri-fold phone, expected to launch later this year, "could potentially raise their market share to nearly 30%". The firm expects Motorola's share of the folding phone market to rise to around 6%.

According to Trendforce, Apple "is still evaluating component specifications and performance", and it has apparently set very strict requirements regarding the display's crease and its reliability. Those requirements mean that Apple is "unlikely" to release its own foldable before 2027 – although other sources say that we can expect a folding iPad then, with a folding MacBook also following in 2027.

When Apple does enter the market, it won't be at the bottom end – and that's where most of the competition is right now, with Chinese brands in particular really pushing to cut their costs and reduce the sticker prices of their foldables; Trendforce highlights the Nubia Flip, which has a £499 price tag, as an example of the trend. But the foldable Apple will want to beat will be the 2027 equivalent of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, which currently starts at £1,749.

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. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).