Gurman: Apple developing a Mac/iPad hybrid with a foldable display

Fold iPhone concept
Fold iPhone concept (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple is reportedly working on a foldable display that could transform into both a Mac and iPad.
  • Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says it would be completely touch-based and ditch a physical keyboard.
  • If it does come to fruition it would be as early as 2026.

Last week, Ross Young from Display Supply Chain Consultants said that Apple may be venturing into the world of notebook computers with a foldable display.

According to Young, Apple is working on a 20-inch foldable display that could see the light of day as soon as 2026:

On the other hand, we are now showing Apple in our roadmap for foldable notebooks. We hear there is interest at the largest size yet, around 20.x". This size could create a new category for Apple and would result in a true dual use product, a notebook with a full-size keyboard when folded and for use as a monitor when not folded and used with an external keyboard. It may also allow for UHD/4K resolution or even higher at that size. The time frame is likely later than 2025 though, it could be 2026 or 2027.

Today, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reiterated Young's claim and said that he has also been told that Apple is working on the technology. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman goes on to say that Apple's massive foldable could transform into a Mac or iPad depending on the user's needs.

In addition, Gurman says that Apple will ditch a physical keyboard and trackpad in favor for a full touch experience on the device:

Apple is working on a foldable device with a roughly 20-inch screen, according to Ross Young at Display Supply Chain Consultants, who cited supply-chain checks. There's been speculation over how Apple could adopt such technology: The company could go with a foldable 20-inch screen attached to a physical keyboard or just have one side of the display serving as a virtual keyboard. I'm told Apple has indeed been exploring a dual-screen, foldable MacBook/iPad hybrid that would take the second approach. It would trade in the physical keyboard and trackpad for a fully touch-screen base (the Lenovo model above gives you a sense of what that might look like). The device has been in development for the past couple of years, but will it see the light of day? According to Young, the company is targeting a release around 2026, which would put in the same time period as an Apple car and its long-anticipated AR glasses.

It's no secret that Apple has been experimenting with foldables, but up until now, the rumors have been focused on a foldable iPhone rather than an iPad or Mac. However, all prospects are interesting if Apple can figure out how to create a form factor and glass experience that hasn't been perfected by other companies like Samsung and Lenovo just yet.

While we wait, perhaps, endlessly, for a foldable Mac/iPad hybrid, the company is expected to announce a new iPad Air and at least one new Mac at a long-rumored March event.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.

  • MacOS and Mac software are not touch friendly. At all. This would be the biggest dud since “Windows tablets”. There is no reason at all to combine a Mac and an iPad. OTOH, an iPad that folds down to an iPhone could be useful. But would Apple rather sell me an iPhone AND an iPad, or a single iPhad? Personally, I would rather have both. I would also rather have a 17 inch iPad Pro Max than a Mac and iPad combined. No folding screen needed. iPhad. iPad Pro Max. You heard them here first. 🤣
  • If Apple were to offer a foldable screen, then Apple would also have to offer a touch screen MacBook. That would mean Apple’s MacBooks would now have to support a touch screen interface. But it doesn’t end there, Apple’s M1 MacBooks also support iOS apps, but everyone who currently has a M1 MacBook already knows that running any iPhone (iOS) apps on a M1 MacBook, sucks! That’s because ALL iOS apps are written with a touch screen interface in mind, and there is currently NO TOUCH screen on any Mac today. Therefore M1 Macs make for a terrible iOS app experience. Apple even knows this as well, and has stopped talking about running iOS apps on their M1 Macs altogether. Also Apple would have to back track on previous statements and now say that they would support touch screen Macs. Now if Apple did create a touch screen M1 MacBook, then almost overnight this would pretty much kill off a lot of Apple’s iPad sales. Plus Apple wouldn't need to create ANY foldable MacBook. Just put a touch screen on the existing MacBooks. Why buy an overpriced iPad, when you could buy a MacBook with a touch screen, and a keyboard, that could now run not only Mac apps, but it could run iOS apps as they were intended to run using a touch screen interface. Some people would still buy iPads, but lets get real, if Apple offered a 2 in 1 MacBook, that could run all Mac apps, and iOS apps, and it already comes with a included keyboard and track pad. All of which is missing from every iPad, and you would have to purchase separately. This is the real problem with Apple’s iPads, and iPhones, as well as Apples Macs. First of all as of today, all sales of tablets show up under the category of tablet sales. However any 2 in 1 device, or any touch screen laptops show up under the category of PC sales. If Apple were to make a touch screen foldable Mac, or even a touch screen Mac, then all of those sales show up under PC sales, which Apple is low down on the totem pole for most PC type sales. Apple is high on the tablet sales, but as soon as Apple came out with 2 in 1 Mac, or any touch screen MacBook. Then almost over night Apple’s tablet sales would plummet. Unless the goal post was changed, where tablet sales were now included into the PC sales category. Apple always talks a good game, but look at Apple with foldable iPhone’s? Where is Apple on that front again? That is right, Apple said it might come out with a foldable iPhone in 2025, and now maybe 2026. Currently in the Android world this will be the 4th year (2022) where foldable devices have been selling to the public, and still nothing from Apple. The display tech is ready, it is Apple, and their operating systems, and app store that is not ready for any foldables.