Apple is reportedly working on a foldable iPhone for 2023

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said it expects to ship up to 20 million units in the first year.

Mike Segar / reuters

Rumors about a foldable iPhone have bubbled up before, but a new one has more credibility. Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors that Apple plans to launch an 8-inch foldable iPhone by 2023 according to documents seen by Engadget and an article from MacRumors. The report, based on an "industry survey," predicts that Apple plans to sell 15-20 million units in 2023.

Kuo said already revealed the possibility of a folding iPhone in March, but his latest report has more detail on suppliers. It predicts that the QHD+ flexible OLED will be supplied by Samsung Display, while the DDI display controller will come from Samsung Foundry. It also notes that Apple will use silver nanowire touch tech supplied by TPK, "because of its several advantages over [Samsung's] Y-Octa technology."

The report is highly speculative, so don't start saving up for an iPhone Fold or whatever just yet. However, other details give it some extra credibility. Kuo expects Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and Honor to launch new foldable models in late 2021 or early 2022, and shipments to ramp up to 17 million by 2022 if component shortages improve.

If that happens, foldable phones could become the "next innovative selling point of high-end models" as Kuo puts it. In that case, Apple would of course want to be ready with its own model. However, if consumers don't take to the devices like Kuo predicts, Apple could drop the project like a hot rock. In other words, a lot can happen in the next two years.