Apple maintains predictable release patterns, so it’s rare for one of the countless product rumors and leaks to catch us by surprise. It does happen though and over the past week, one prediction, in particular, has caught our attention: Apple is supposedly considering a 20-inch foldable device.
The foldable would be something of a MacBook/iPad hybrid device and, when folded, one-half of its touchscreen would transform into a virtual keyboard. I know, I know: I was also rolling my eyes at these claims. However, there is enough evidence to suggest that Apple is seriously considering such a device.
Last week, DSCC analyst Ross Young said a foldable iPhone would be delayed until 2025, and that Apple is “investigating the idea” of foldable notebooks, as reported by 9to5Mac. We would usually ignore such brazen predictions, except this comes from a reliable source and was later echoed by one of the most prolific Apple analysts: Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. He wrote in his Power On newsletter that Apple is exploring a “dual-screen, foldable MacBook/iPad hybrid” that would ditch a physical keyboard for a “fully touch-screen base.”
These descriptions suggest a device similar to Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold or Asus’ upcoming Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, a tablet with a 17.3-inch panel that folds into two 12.5-inch screens. When those devices are folded in half, the bottom portions convert into digital keyboards, or you can use the physical detachable keyboard that ships with either model.
We’re still not convinced Apple will go forward with these plans. The company finally seems to have learned from the disgraced Touch Bar that tactile inputs can’t always be replaced by digital ones. But if it does pursue a 20-inch foldable, it would likely be more of an iPad counterpart than a threat to the MacBook—a device that would be great for content consumption and occasional productivity when paired with a physical keyboard.
In the short term, Apple is rumored to be working on a larger iPad Pro with an OLED display—something that will further blur the lines between tablet and laptop. A foldable screen could enable Apple to go even bigger while keeping the device at a reasonable size (when folded, at least). I’m curious to see what accessory or software magic Apple comes up with to improve the typing experience and make this mythical device better for productivity than the current iPad Pro. If you’ve tried using an on-screen keyboard before, you know the struggle.
Even if Apple does move forward with a 20-inch foldable tablet, it probably won’t be until 2026 or 2027. At that point, other manufacturers will have tested the waters and given Apple more intel before it commits to foldable screens. In the meantime, Apple might also learn from its rumored foldable iPhone, which is expected to arrive between 2023 and 2025.