3 reasons Apple should make a foldable MacBook Pro (and 1 reason it really shouldn't)

MacBook Air m2
(Image credit: Future/ iMore)

Apple was rumored to be working on some sort of 20-inch foldable display that would be used to build a MacBook Pro earlier this week. And it's the kind of thing that seems to make sense — until you realize that it doesn't.

Apple is yet to enter the world of the foldable device, whether that's a phone as many of us would hope, or a tablet as has been rumored before now. 

But this latest report suggests that Apple is thinking big. Really big. And at a claimed 20.25 inches, this thing would be bigger than your average foldable by some margin.

But should it exist at all?

Maybe...

So here's the rumor as we've been given it. The Elec (opens in new tab) reports that Apple is working on a device that would have a 20.25-inch screen when unfolded, making for a massive display in terms of portable machines. When closed, or at least partially folded, it would have something around 15 inches on either side of the crease. Two halves of 15 inches, if you like.

That's an interesting idea to be sure, and it would be around the size of Apple's largest MacBook Pro to date and much larger than even the best iPad, the 12.9-inch M2 iPad Pro. There's no denying that is an interesting idea.

There are a few reasons why this might be a good idea, too.

The first is that we would finally get our touchscreen Mac. The foldable screen would of course be touch-capable, allowing people to put their greasy fingerprints all over their Menu bar for the first time. Some people really like that idea, while others aren't convinced. I'm not sure which side of the camp I fall in, but this is a big benefit if you're someone who reaches out to touch their Mac with alarming regularity.

The second is that Apple could use the "bottom" half of the folded screen for just about anything. Sure, it could act as a keyboard when needed but it could also be home to more buttons, toggles, and raw data. Imagine a Touch Bar but turned up to 11 and you'll have the idea. Except, hopefully, much better. A giant workspace for your timeline in a video editing app springs to mind.

Third? This is an oddball idea, but we're talking about something that doesn't exist yet so indulge me for a moment. What if that screen could be used as one single 20-inch screen with an external keyboard and mouse? Like a mini-iMac of sorts. But one that could then be picked up, folded, and turned into a portable in seconds? Sounds pretty great, doesn't it?

In fact, that's arguably the biggest reason for Apple to build this thing. It's a big-screen Mac for when you're at your desk and a small(er) one for when you're on the road or at the local coffee shop. I like it. Dare I say, I'd probably buy it as well.

But then again...

MacBooks

(Image credit: iMore)

But there's one glaring problem here. And it's one brought about by physics.

See, as much as I want to be able to pick an iMac up and fold it in half, that would undoubtedly mean typing on a glass keyboard when not tethered to a desk. That's OK when you're using an iPhone and fine to some extent when using an iPad. But typing for any length of time on a glass keyboard? No thanks.

There's a reason Apple sells $300 keyboards and trackpads and it's because people don't like tapping away on their glass screens. It just isn't very fun and, really very bad in terms of ergonomics as well.

Apple might have some sort of fix for this, though. Way back in 2019 we covered a patent that was designed to give touchscreen keyboards a new type of haptic feedback in an attempt to simulate a physical keyboard. At the time it was suggested that Apple could turn that technology into a multi-screen device.

Sound familiar?

Oh, and it's worth noting that this isn't the first time we've heard of such a device. Display Analyst Ross Young said Apple was working on a foldable notebook earlier this year.

The size? 20 inches, of course.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.