Apple 9-inch foldable device could change the equation of the foldable smartphone market

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Apple is testing a 9-inch foldable device, which could be a foldable iPad or a hybrid of iPad and iPhone.

Most foldable smartphones currently on the market or in development have screens that are between 6 and 8 inches in size.

Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities recently tweeted that the priority sizes for Apple foldable device development are medium, large, and small. The California-based company is actively testing its 9-inch foldable OLED, with PPI between iPhone and iPad. It is also adopting Touch and display driver integration (TDDI) into it.

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Surprisingly, Apple does not seem to be in hurry to enter the foldable smartphone market. Its first foldable device will not be available until 2025, as opposed to its previous predictions of 2023 or 2024.

I think the priority order of sizes of Apple foldable product development is medium, large and small. Apple is actively testing foldable OLED about 9-inch (PPI between iPhone and iPad, adoption of TDDI). The test is to verify key technologies and may not be the final product spec, Kuo said in a tweet.

Apple is reportedly skeptical about the sustainability of foldable devices in the global smartphone market. The company believes that foldable smartphones are only here for a short span of time and may lose their popularity or become obsolete over the next few years.

Foldable smartphone market is too competitive

The world’s most valued publicly-traded company has been following the footsteps of all Android OEMs including Google, Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, and Huawei who have working on their foldable smartphones for a long time now. Samsung, for example, has already flooded the market with foldable devices such as the Galaxy Fold, Galaxy Z Fold3, Galaxy Z Fold2, etc. Some other available foldable smartphones include Oppo Find N, Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold (Only officially available in China), Huawei Mate X and MATE XS, and LG Velvet. The customers have been overwhelmingly positive.

Apple is also said to be working with LG on another foldable OLED display panel with an ultra-thin cover glass, instead of polyimide, for future iOS tablets and notebooks. Apple is also in talks with potential suppliers for around 20-inch foldable notebooks.

As the number of foldable smartphones is set to come out next in the next few years, the ultra-expensive smartphone segment is going to be very competitive.

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Global Foldable Smartphone Market by 2025

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the worldwide foldable phone shipments, inclusive of both flip and fold form factors, reached a total of 7.1 million units in 2021. That’s representing a mind-boggling 264.3% YoY growth over 2020 when only 1.9 million units were shipped. IDC also forecasted that the worldwide foldable smartphone shipments will reach 27.6 million units in 2025, with a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 69.9%.

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