Rumors about a folding iPhone are nothing new, but analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (who has a very strong track record) is weighing in with information of his own: he says that Apple could be looking at a 2023 launch, and that the phone could have a screen between 7.5 and eight inches (via MacRumors). Previous rumors have suggested that the screen would be smaller, closer to the size of an iPhone 12 Pro Max.
There have been numerous reports about Apple prototyping a folding iPhone, but according to MacRumors, Kuo says that the product has “not yet officially kicked off.” Meanwhile, competitors like Samsung, Motorola, and Royole have all released multiple foldable phones (though they’re mostly expensive and clearly early implementations of the tech).
According to Kuo, the screen will be iPad Mini-sized when folded out, so it seems as if Apple is going for the Galaxy Fold approach of having a regular-sized phone that folds out into a small tablet, rather than the Z Flip or Razr approach of having a compact folding phone. (This is a bummer to me, but it seems like the folding phablet approach is the most popular at the moment.) It’s unclear who would be making those folding displays — there have been rumors of Apple working with both LG and Samsung.
While the rumors of a prototype and this report from Kuo indicate that Apple is indeed working on a folding phone, it’s not something to wait around for just yet. Kuo’s 2023 launch date is dependent on Apple being able to figure out “key technology and mass production issues.” As we’ve seen, folding phones can be hard to get right. If Apple can do it, though, it could be in the position to do what it does best: adopt a technology after other companies have figured out the bugs and pitfalls, and release a product that seems polished in comparison.