I was tasked with proclaiming that 2024 would be a watershed “year of the foldable.” After a half-decade of steady evolution, foldable phones were finally ready to hit the mainstream in a big way, thanks to maturing technology and expanding options.
But upon reflection, 2024 can’t truly be a foldable breakthrough without one major player: Apple.
Now don’t get me wrong – Samsung has firmly established itself as the foldable standard-bearer after five generations of increasingly impressive devices like the Z Fold 5. Folding display oddities have given way to versatile dual-screen smartphones. The specs match premium slates, with ample screen real estate, great cameras, S Pen support, water resistance – the works.
Competitors like Google, Motorola and OnePlus have followed suit with their own creative takes, prioritizing bigger external displays, slimmer bodies and enhanced cameras. But Samsung remains top dog in innovation, quality and durability.
The problem is, almost no one is actually buying foldable phones. Industry data suggests Samsung sells 80% of all foldables, which still only constitutes around 1% of the total smartphone market. And much of that volume seems concentrated in Samsung’s homeland of South Korea.
Domestically, I see iPhones dominating trains and public spaces. And without Apple ever releasing an iPhone Fold, the foldable segment may simply never take off worldwide.
Apple’s influence is less about market share than cultural cache and buzz. The mere existence of an iPhone Fold would become global news. It would finally give foldables the halo effect they need to go mainstream.
But respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo doesn’t see an iPhone foldable arriving until 2025 at the earliest. And 2024 won’t be that year for Apple. Instead, they will focus on pushing their upcoming mixed reality Vision Pro headset and spatial computing.