Apple could release a foldable iPhone or iPad by 2021, UBS analysts say. The company has filed several patents hinting at a foldable iPhone.
- Apple's first foldable iOS device could launch in 2021, according to analysts at UBS.
- The analysts note that Apple may launch a foldable iPad before releasing a foldable iPhone.
- The report comes as Samsung and Huawei are gearing up to release their first foldable smartphones.
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While popular smartphone makers like Samsung and Huawei are among the first to launch foldable smartphones, it looks like Apple fans might have to wait until 2021 to get their hands on a bendable iPhone or iPad.
A team of analysts at UBS believe Apple could launch a foldable iOS device by 2021 based on an analysis of the iPhone maker's intellectual property filings. But it might not be an iPhone, as the analysts suggest that a foldable tablet may come first.
"We believe a product (iPad most likely before iPhone) could still come next year, but 2021 is more likely," the report says.
Read more: Don't buy a new iPhone right now
Apple has filed several patents for foldable technology, including one that was granted to the company in May for a foldable cover and display for an electronic device. The images accompanying the patent show a tablet-like device that folds in half like a book. An Apple patent application that surfaced in February also describes a flexible display device, with images that seemingly show a smartphone that folds in half from top to bottom.
UBS also conducted a global smartphone survey to gauge customer interest in foldable phones, finding that a foldable phone from Apple likely won't have a big impact on customers' smartphone-buying plans. 58% of smartphone users said an Apple foldable would not influence their purchase intention, according to the UBS Evidence Lab survey. However, of the 34% of respondents that are interested in foldable devices, 72% think an Apple foldable phone could increase their purchase intention.
The survey results come as Samsung and Huawei are gearing up to release their respective foldable smartphones, which will be among the first that consumers will be able to buy. Samsung's nearly $2,000 Galaxy Fold was initially scheduled to be released in April. But the company delayed its launch to September after a small number of reviewers experienced issues with the phone. Huawei also said the release of its foldable Mate X will be pushed back because of carrier certification tests, according to Reuters. That phone, which was planned for June, will also likely debut in September.