Apple is said to be actively working on its first foldable device with a foldable panel that measures between 7 and 8 inches and could launch as soon as 2026. The device could ultimately serve as a replacement for the iPad mini, according to a new report from The Elec.
Samsung Display and LG Display are rumored to be the primary contenders for supplying the foldable display that would go into such a product. According to the report, both companies began supplying Apple with display samples between 6 and 7 inches since last year. However, the overall specifications of the hypothetical foldable product are yet to be finalized, and Apple is still discussing with Samsung and LG other crucial aspects of the device like its mechanical hinge system and the Ultrathin Glass (UTG) that covers the foldable display.
The difference in opinions between Apple and its suppliers stems from different priorities in reliability and durability. Nevertheless, Samsung will likely begin mass production of the foldable panels a year before LG if Apple approves its device due to the former’s longer experience thanks to the Galaxy Z Fold and Flip lineups and bigger manufacturing capacity.
The panels in question will likely use Samsung’s 6th-generation A3 or A4 OLED production line, which is the same line that produces panels for OLED iPhones. Apple could ultimately decide to delay the product till LG can begin its panel mass production since the former may not want to solely rely on Samsung.
While the foldable device’s size makes it sound like a plausible iPad mini replacement, it will not be an immediate substitution for the smallest iPad since Apple is rumored to be working on a flat OLED display for that device that could also be released by 2026. Since both products are rumored to be released around the same time, it seems plausible that Apple has different ideas for each, with the foldable device ultimately not being marketed as an iPad.
The report also reiterates rumors of Apple working on a much larger 20.25-inch foldable product that could be the foundation for a foldable OLED MacBook. This device is predicted to be released after the 8-inch foldable has hit the market, potentially after 2027.