Apple could be on track to release a foldable iPad as early as next year, according to supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. “I’m positive about the foldable iPad in 2024 and expect this new model will boost shipments and improve the product mix,” he tweeted early Monday. Kuo expects it to be joined by a revamped iPad Mini, due to enter mass production in early 2024.
Kuo didn’t offer many new details on the rumored iPad foldable, but said that it will feature a “carbon fiber” kickstand produced by Chinese component manufacturer Anjie Technology.
A 2024 release date is significantly earlier than the last significant foldable iPad prediction, which came from Display Supply Chain Consultant analyst Ross Young last February. He reported that Apple is developing a foldable iPad/MacBook hybrid with a roughly 20-inch folding screen, but anticipated that it won’t be ready for release until 2026. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman later reported that Apple has been exploring a dual-screen foldable, and added that the bottom half of the display would serve as a virtual keyboard when the device is used as a MacBook-style clamshell.
Gurman didn’t offer an exact release date prediction, but noted in October that Apple’s foldable iPad could release “later in the decade.”
This isn’t the first time Kuo has put a date on an Apple foldable prediction after he said a foldable iPhone might release in 2023, two years ago. But it sounds like this might be a much smaller device with a screen size in the region of 7.5 to 8 inches. Gurman has even reported that Apple has discussed releasing a foldable device with a similar screen size to the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. Given the lack of rumors about a foldable iPhone more recently it’s hard to imagine it releasing in 2023, as Kuo previously predicted.
In the more immediate future, Kuo is predicting a drop in iPad shipments of between 10 and 15 percent year-over-year in 2023. Given the bump in sales enjoyed by most consumer tech companies during the covid lockdowns, and the drops many have experienced more recently, a decline in tablet shipments this year wouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Finally, Kuo expects the next iPad that Apple releases to be the iPad Mini. He thinks a new model will enter production in the first quarter of 2024, succeeding its last refresh in 2021.