Rumor Says Apple's Folding iPad Is Coming, and It Makes Perfect Sense

Like the one we already have, only better

  • According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will launch a folding iPad in 2024.
  • A folding tablet makes a lot more sense than a folding phone.
  • If it's launching a product, Apple must have solved all the folding screen problems.

Someone using an iPad while in a moving vehicle.

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A foldable iPad makes way more sense than a foldable iPhone.

Apple will launch a foldable iPad next year, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and it will also feature a carbon-fiber kickstand. For iPad lovers, this is fantastic news, as it will make iPads easier to carry and more durable in some ways. Compared to folding smartphones, which are an answer to a question nobody ever asked, folding tablets could be a legit great idea.

"When folded, a tablet takes up less space but then allows you to spread out. This is particularly valuable for things like note-taking, handling email, looking at photos—tasks that are better with more space—without paying the penalty of carrying a large fixed-size screen," David Brittain, CEO of the Concepts design app for tablets and phones, told Lifewire via email.

In the Fold

I used an iPad as my main computer for years for work, music making, reading, and everything else. Its software limits eventually drove me back to the Mac, but hardware-wise, the 12.9-inch iPad is almost perfect—able to mate with a keyboard or an Apple Pencil or be used alone. 

Its only drawback, hardware-wise, is that it is as big as a MacBook ( heavier, too, if combined with the Magic Keyboard) and prone to bending when shoved in a bag.

A couple on a train putting an iPad in a backpack.

hobo_018 / Getty Images

A folding iPad would solve this if Apple can get the screen right. It would presumably hide the screen on the inside when folded, and the extra thickness and smaller surface area would be way less bendable. Plus, it would just be easier to fit into a purse or backpack.

"In contrast to most phones, regular tablets are inherently larger, and giving them a foldable design is a better idea. Almost all phones have a compact form allowing an easy fit in our pockets," Andrew Tomson, project manager at video editing software company Sofilmar, told Lifewire via email. "Furthermore, folding tablets are awesome because of their high portability. They can easily fit in a purse, tote bag, backpack, and more."

A phone needs to be accessible in an instant. One of a phone's primary purposes is to be quickly glanceable, and If you have to unfold it to use it, then it takes too long. But we have no such expectations for tablets. Grabbing a big old iPad from a bag and opening up the cover to wake it is the same as unfolding a foldable iPad.

Screen Saver

The only red flag in this report from supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is that making a good folding screen is hard. Samsung, which has gone all-in on folding phones, has a history of problems with its screens. At the initial launch, reviewers managed to break them in a day without even trying, and things haven't gotten much better since.

Samsung uses plastic-covered screens to get enough flexibility to bend them shut. Microsoft has taken a different approach, using two conventional glass screens side-by-side in a hinged casing. This means that the gap/crack between screens is always visible, but you get to use superior glass screens and don't have to worry about a bulge or line developing along the crease.

A foldable Android phone with a crease on the screen.

Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

Apple is incredibly fussy about its screens. They are some of the best in the business. There's no way it would introduce a product with a less-than-amazing screen. So how would a folding iPad work? It seems unlikely to use plastic, like Samsung, because, in addition to getting scratched up and creasing, it doesn't feel as nice as glass.

But glass doesn't fold. Perhaps Apple has come up with an edge-to-edge screen design that will let it use the two-unit approach, only without the seam being visible. 

We don't know, but if Apple really is almost ready to sell one of these, it means that we are on the cusp of seeing how it solved the folding screen problem. That's pretty exciting stuff right there. And if Apple has solved it for the iPad, then perhaps it has also solved it for a folding iPhone–although, as mentioned above, folding phones are problematic for reasons other than the screen technology.

And while this might be an iPad, really, it's a new category for Apple, which is always an exciting prospect. Just think how great other brand-new Apple products have been: AirPods, the Apple Watch, the iPad, the iPhone, right back to the windowed, interactive user interface of the Mac or the shape of all modern laptops. When Apple does hardware, it does it right. This could be a big deal.

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