Apple is expected to launch an 8-inch foldable iPhone, featuring a QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023. It’s said that the company’s first foldable iPhone will work towards bridging the gaps between smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
According to a recent investor note from TF International Securities Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, seen by MacRumors, the foldable iPhone is expected in 2023. It’s said that SDC will be the exclusive display supplier with Samsung Foundry acting as the exclusive DDI foundry provider.
Based on our latest industry survey, we forecast that Apple will likely launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, with SDC as the exclusive display supplier and Samsung Foundry as the exclusive DDI foundry provider. Based on Apple’s requested capacity plan, we predict that the foldable iPhone shipments will reach 15-20 million units in 2023. We expect that the foldable iPhone will adopt TPK’s silver nanowire touch solution because of its several advantages over SDC’s Y-Octa technology.
With the expectation set to ship 15-20 million units in 2023, Apple is revving up to make a big splash in the foldable market. A new device in the iPhone family could incentivize consumers to cycle back in to adopt higher-end devices from the company and maintain strong attach rates to its premier device. However, expanding the current iPhone offering may only be a portion of Apple’s goal.
At present, the product position of foldable smartphones is mainly to integrate the smartphone and tablet. But we believe that the foldable smartphone is only one of the applications of the foldable design. We predict that foldable devices will blur the product segmentations between smartphones, tablets, and laptops in the future. With its cross-product ecosystems and hardware design advantages, Apple will be the biggest winner in the new foldable device trend.
The foldable device market is already a competitive field in the tech space. Multiple device makers have already attempted to break in with varying success. Per Kuo’s notes, Apple is looking at adopting a silver nanowire touch solution for its display. Apple currently utilizes silver nanowire for its HomePod. Not only is it said that it will provide immediate solutions as it develops its first foldable iPhone but it may give the company a “long-term competitive advantage” for future iterations.
Future foldable devices will require touch technology that supports multiple folds (vs. only a single fold in current foldable smartphones), rollable, medium to large size display, and durability. When comparing the advantages of the above specifications, the silver nanowire is similar or superior to SDC’s Y-Octa.
Rumours surrounding a possible foldable iPhone have surfaced more and more. Earlier this year, Kuo himself predicted that Apple was in talks to develop the device. Though at the time, Kuo stated that development had “not yet officially kicked off”. In December 2020, reports came out stating that foldable iPhone prototypes had passed Apple’s internal testing.