Apple will launch a foldable iPad instead of iPhone in 2024: analyst

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at an event at the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, on September 7, 2022. During a presentation called Far Out, Apple will unveil the iPhone 14 line, a new line of smartwatches and new AirPods.

Nic Coury | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Apple is likely to launch an iPad with a foldable screen in 2024, analyst firm CCS Insight said Tuesday, predicting the US tech giant will soon begin experimenting with foldable technology.

CCS Insight released its annual forecasting report Tuesday in which the group’s analysts make predictions about future products and trends.

In the latest report, CCS Insight predicted that Apple would launch a foldable iPad in two years’ time instead of starting with a foldable iPhone.

This is in contrast to other smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung who have launched foldable smartphones instead of tablets.

“Right now there’s no point for Apple to make a foldable iPhone. We think they’ll eschew that trend and probably dip a toe in the water with a foldable iPad,” said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS. Insight, to CNBC in an interview.

“A foldable iPhone will be a super high risk for Apple. First, it would have to be incredibly expensive not to cannibalize the existing iPhones,” Wood added.

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The analyst said a foldable iPhone should probably cost about $2,500. Apple’s largest storage iPhone 14 Pro Max, the most expensive model right now, costs about $1,599.

Wood also said that if Apple had technical problems with the foldable phone, it would be a “food frenzy” with critics attacking Apple for the problems.

Still, Apple has “no choice but to respond as the trend toward foldable devices is gaining traction,” Wood said, which is why the company will start with an iPad.

He said it would give Apple a chance to learn how to implement and scale foldable screen technology and “breathe new life” on the iPad lineup.

Apple was not immediately available for comment when CNBC contacted them.

There have been some rumors about Apple’s intentions with foldable screen products. Earlier this year, market research firm Display Supply Chain Consultants said Apple will enter the foldable smartphone market at the earliest in 2025. However, the company said Apple is exploring folding technology for screens around 20 inches. That could be aimed at a new foldable notebook product, the market research firm said.

Predictions about a foldable iPhone have been around for at least four years. Last year, Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities, a prominent Apple analyst known for his credible predictions, said the company could release an iPhone with a foldable screen by 2024.

Apple combines 5G and processor in chip

CCS Insight also predicts that Apple will continue to invest in its own chip design.

Currently, the Cupertino giant is designing its own custom chips for iPhone and iPad. It relies on US chipmaker Qualcomm for modems that allow these devices to connect to mobile Internet networks for 5G connectivity.

However, CCS Insight said Apple will likely integrate its own 5G modem into its A-series processor by 2025 for a “single-chip” solution for iPhones.

Apple acquired Intel’s modem business in 2019. That led to speculation that the tech giant would very soon ditch Qualcomm and use its own modems in its devices. However, that hasn’t happened yet.

Kuo of TF International Securities said in June that he expects the company to continue using Qualcomm chips for iPhones released in 2023.

Wood said Apple has “stepped up in-house capabilities” so it can use its own modems in iPhones.

“They (Apple) have been shooting at this target for years. They’ve taken over Intel’s assets from the modem unit, they’ve worked hard to ramp that up, they’re very keen to make sure they keep expanding their checkpoints that they have,” said Wood.

“They don’t want to keep paying a third-party vendor for their technology.”

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