Apple is said to be working on a foldable MacBook/iPad hybrid device | #macos | #macsecurity


Enlarge / Apple’s 2021 iPad—sans futuristic folding capability, of course.

Samuel Axon

Two different sources are now saying Apple plans to introduce a foldable iPad and MacBook hybrid product, though the release date for such a device would likely be a few years away.

The rumors first began to swirl when DSCC analyst Ross Young published a report claiming that Apple has been discussing a 20-inch foldable computing device with suppliers.

The device could be used in multiple ways. When it’s folded into a laptop-like shape, the hybrid’s bottom half could be used as a keyboard. When it’s unfolded, the device could be treated like a large tablet computer. Further, the hybrid could be used with an external keyboard to work as a portable monitor and all-in-one computer.

Here’s exactly what Young said:

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.

Analyst reports like this rely on information from Apple’s supply chain, which can be insightful but often incomplete. Apple’s suppliers often do not know the full context or scope of what Apple is working on; they only know their own small part in it. So if we were going on the analyst report alone, the hypothetical hybrid device might not be worthy of much fanfare.

However, Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman—whose name you may recognize if you’ve been following product news the past few years, thanks to his often accurate predictions citing people directly familiar with Apple’s plans—corroborated the analyst report in his most recent weekly newsletter. Here’s what he said:

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).

He noted that the device has been in development for a couple of years, but he didn’t make any additional claims about its release window other than to point to what Young had predicted.

Apple would not be the first company to try a foldable hybrid. For example, Lenovo did something similar with the ThinkPad X1 Fold. Designs like this are by no means a mainstream idea yet, though.

A device like this from Apple would likely incorporate some future successor to the M1 chip, meaning it would offer much better performance than offerings like this to date.

All that said, the product may not ultimately become a commercial reality. Young said Apple is talking to suppliers about the concept, and Gurman said Apple is “exploring” the idea. But those reports both suggest that it’s early days. When a concept is this nascent, the company’s plans could eventually change or be discarded.



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