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New report says Apple is building a secret folding device

Apple is working with LG on a foldable display destined for a brand-new, top-secret device that’s yet to be announced. That’s according to a new report from The Elec, and it follows similar claims from reliable tipsters that Apple has some sort of hybrid device up its sleeve.

The Elec’s report explains that LG Display is set to provide HP with a folding 17-inch glass panel that will enter production later this year. These OLED screens will offer 4K resolution and will find their way into a future 11-inch laptop from HP.

The Aus Zenbook 17 Fold folded in half on a table in front of some hedges.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Alongside this panel, The Elec claims that the two companies are planning “another foldable OLED panel.” Judging by past reports, this could end up in a product that blends an iPad, a MacBook, and a monitor into one Frankenstein-like creation of a device.

Aside from the fact that the screen will use OLED technology, The Elec’s report does not share any other specific details about this mystery panel. For instance, while reporter Mark Gurman and analyst Ross Young have both previously said this folding screen could span 20 inches, The Elec offers no estimates. However, the outlet does state that the panel “is being designed for tablets and notebooks with ultrathin glass as the cover window instead of polyimide.”

A new frontier for Apple

A foldable Macbook concept image created by LunaDisplay.

Apple’s laptops usually use a 16:10 aspect ratio as opposed to the more common 16:9 ratio, and it’s possible that this panel could follow suit. However, the fact that it is to be a foldable display muddies the waters a little.

That’s because this would be a multipurpose device. According to previous rumors, it could function as a monitor when unfolded or, alternatively, as a large tablet. When partially folded, it would look like a laptop. With that in mind, working out specs like the aspect ratio or likely resolution is something of a fool’s game right now, since leaks suggest it will have all manner of uses.

I expected Apple to launch a foldable iPhone as soon as 2024 in my reports last year, but now it's clear this prediction needs to be revised. I predict Apple may launch its first foldable product in 2025 at the earliest, which may be a foldable iPad or a hybrid of iPad & iPhone.

— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) April 1, 2022

According to both Gurman and Young, the device would offer up a full on-screen keyboard when folded in laptop mode. We know that Apple is working on a kind of haptic virtual keyboard that mimics the feel of tactile keys, so it’s possible technology like this could debut in this foldable iPad-MacBook hybrid.

Whatever happens, this is clearly uncharted territory for Apple, so we expect the device is very early in its development cycle. That’s backed up by Young’s report from February 2022, where the display industry analyst predicted the product would not see the light of day until 2025 at the very earliest, with 2026 or 2027 more likely targets for a release date. That idea was further boosted by reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who also said 2025 is the soonest date we should expect. When that day eventually arrives, Apple’s product lineup could be changed forever.

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