[News] Is a Foldable iPhone on the Horizon? Samsung Display’s ‘Apple Team’ Strengthening Spurs Speculation

2023-12-14 Consumer Electronics editor

According to South Korean electronics industry media “The Elec,” insiders have revealed that, in the year-end organizational restructuring, Samsung Display has strengthened its existing team responsible for handling demand from Cupertino, where the corporate headquarters of Apple is located.

Reportedly, the focus was on enhancing its capability to respond to the potential release of foldable devices by Apple. This suggests that an Apple foldable device might make its debut in the coming year.

The report points out that both Samsung Display and its competitor LG Display are developing a 20.25-inch foldable display for Apple’s future products. Samsung Display’s organizational restructuring appears to be a strategic move to compete more effectively against other rivals, particularly LG Display, in an effort to secure orders for Apple’s foldable panels.

Apple is Samsung Display’s most significant customer for OLED panels, and Samsung Display is the exclusive supplier of foldable OLED panels for its parent company, Samsung Electronics. Samsung Display evidently aims to leverage the experience gained in producing foldable displays for Samsung devices to prepare for potential future orders for foldable iPhones and iPads from Apple.

However, according to the analysis released by TrendForce in the second half of this year, Apple’s development in the folding field still requires time. Apple’s foray into foldables has been tepid, to say the least.

Yet, Apple’s unwavering obsession with user experience could be the culprit. Furthermore, persistent challenges with foldable tech—think panel evenness and hinge design—might be holding them back.

But here’s the kicker: Achieving perfection with larger foldable panels is somewhat simpler than their smaller counterparts. Could this mean Apple might leapfrog right into medium-sized foldable products—like laptops or tablets? Only time will tell.

TrendForce’s insights reveal that by 2023, shipments of foldable smartphones could skyrocket to an impressive 18.3 million units, marking a 43% YoY surge. However, this only captures a slim 1.6% of the year’s total smartphone market.

Fast forward to 2024, and we’re looking at another leap—a 38% growth, translating to a hefty 25.2 million units and nudging the market share up to 2.2% Looking at the medium to long term, TrendForce believes the expansion of the foldable smartphone market is inevitable. By 2027, shipments could soar to a whopping 70 million units, seizing around 5% of the global smartphone market.

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(Photo credit: Apple)

Please note that this article cites information from The Elec.