Apple's foldable iPhone could claim an unexpected casualty in 2023

There are a few companies out there who have been testing the waters when it comes to foldable phones, and it may not be long before we see Apple join them. A new analyst report today is claiming that Apple could launch its own foldable phone in just a couple years' time. Among other things, this phone is expected to have an 8-inch OLED flexible display.

So says famed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a recent note to investors, which was obtained by the folks over at MacRumos. Kuo expects Apple to launch that 8-inch foldable smartphone in 2023, and he also expects Apple to recruit Samsung Display as "the exclusive display supplier" and Samsung Foundry "as the exclusive DDI foundry provider."

Kuo also made some predictions about the phone itself, saying it will output in FHD+ resolution and use TPK's silver nanowire touch technology, which could be the better choice for smartphones with multiple folds over Samsung Display's Y-Octa tech. Based on Apple's "request capacity plan" Kuo also believes that the company will ship 15-20 million foldable smartphones in 2023 – the same year he expects this phone to launch – so it's clear that he expects this phone to be a success out of the gate.

Worth noting is that Kuo also envisions a future where "foldable devices will blur the product segmentations between smartphones, tablets, and laptops," and that Apple will be primed to capitalize on that given its existing ecosystem comprised of multiple products. So, it seems there's the expectation that foldable devices will move beyond their current niche and become a product that's more ubiquitous fueling Kuo's prediction here, meaning we'll just have to wait and see how things pan out.

One thing to wonder is what will happen to the iPad Mini in the event that Apple does launch an 8-inch folding iPhone. Since its inception, the iPad Mini has sported a 7.9-inch display, meaning that if Apple makes a folding iPhone with the intention of bridging the gap between smartphones and tablets, it'll essentially be squeezing the iPad Mini out of its niche.

For now, though, the foldable smartphone segment is still very much in its infancy. Kuo's prediction that we'll see Apple launching foldable devices by 2023 may indeed be a bold one at the present moment, but if the foldable market continues to grow, it's easy to imagine Apple trying its hand at it. We'll see what happens from here, but as always, make sure you take rumors, reports, and predictions with a grain of salt.