Samsung's Galaxy Fold may have struggled to launch and Huawei has pushed back the debut of its foldable Mate X, but none of these delays seems to have sequestrated interest in foldable phones. And a big player may be working toward a release of its own, if an analyst report is correct.
Apple is developing both a foldable iPhone and iPad, according to an investor note from UBS. The note, spotted by CNBC, claims the folding iPad would debut first. (As earlier as next year, though it thinks 2021 is a more likely target.)
There's apparently interest for such a device. The UBS report contains a survey of users, in which a third of those surveyed expressed high interest in buying a folding phone. Apple buyers surveyed by UBS say they were willing to pay a $600 premium on such devices.
Samsung, Huawei and others may have a head start on Apple, but that's hardly stopped Cupertino in the past. Apple's track record is dotted with examples of letting other companies release an early version of a product before swooping in to iron out all the initial complains. For an example of this, look no further than the iPhone, which wasn't the first smartphone by any stretch of the imagination but was polished enough to take smartphones mainstream.
This isn't the first indication of a folding iOS device. Patents and concept images of a folding iPhone and iPad emerged earlier this year. They're reminiscent of smartphone designs of old, like the 1996 Nokia Communicator. I'm certainly not ready to return to the era of flip phones, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see a version of my current phone capable of origami.
Apple will probably use the Galaxy Fold's reception as an indication for how fast it will develop folding iPhones and iPad — once Samsung's ill-fated $1,980 phone makes it to retailers. The Galaxy Fold is slated for a September launch after Samsung delayed a planned April debut when early units had problems with the folding display.
If Apple is working on foldable devices, you can bet they won't be released until they're fault-free.