Samsung has been working hard to popularize the concept of the foldable phone, but it looks like Apple could soon hop on that trend as well. According to a UBS investor note reported on by CNBC, Apple is “steadily working” on foldable devices, and will likely launch a foldable iPad before it finally launches a foldable iPhone.
According to the note, the first Apple foldable device could be launched in 2020, though it does mention that a 2021 launch is more likely.
Of course, there will be obstacles to the adoption of foldable devices. As UBS notes, price is expected to be the biggest obstacle. The Samsung Galaxy Fold, for example, is a hefty $2,000, making it hard for the average consumer to justify buying. A survey by UBS found that most customers would be willing to pay $400 to $500 extra for a device that can fold, though as is often the case with Apple devices, foldable iPads and iPhones may cost even more.
According to the survey, the idea of a foldable smartphone had “reasonably high” appeal for more than a third of customers, and China leads the demand.
It’s not necessarily surprising that Apple is working on foldable devices. The company has filed a number of patents related to foldable devices. It is interesting that Apple may start with a foldable iPad before building a foldable iPhone — usually, Apple brings new tech to the iPhone first, then pushes it to iPad. But Apple could take the approach of wanting to make its larger devices, like the iPad, more portable — rather than bringing larger displays to the iPhone.
No matter what Apple does, it’ll likely be a little more patient in developing a foldable device than Samsung. The rival company sustained a public relations black eye after it started shipping the Galaxy Fold to reviewers, and reviewers quickly began claiming that their devices were breaking. Samsung then reclaimed those review units and delayed the consumer launch of the phone. Recently, the company finally set a new release for September — though T-Mobile, which was originally supposed to be one of the carriers of the phone, has announced that it will no longer carry the device.