These days, it seems like every company and their dog is developing a foldable device and trying to convince people that it’s going to be the next big thing. Now, it looks like Apple is jumping in and ready to release a MacBook with a 20-inch foldable display in 2026 or 2027. If all goes well, this could be an even more seismic shift for the Mac than Apple’s move to silicon. Chips.
In fact, I think a laptop with a foldable screen could be Mac’s iPhone X moment—a product that completely reinvents the entire product line, not just for Apple, but for the entire industry. This means that there is a lot of money at stake.
Last week’s news wasn’t the first time we heard that Apple was developing a foldable laptop. In February 2022, there were two reports in a row about exactly that, the first from display industry insider Ross Young and the second from Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. Both claimed that the device would use an on-screen keyboard and could also come with a detachable physical keyboard.
That’s a big deal, since the biggest changes to the MacBook in recent years have been internal, namely the introduction of Apple’s own processors. In fact, when Apple first dropped the M1 chip, the company put it in the exact same MacBook Pro and MacBook Air inserts as the older Intel model chips. No, this foldable MacBook will be a sea change from its predecessors. You can’t miss it.
The legacy of the iPhone X
The original iPhone is rightfully hailed as the phone that changed everything, but the iPhone X, Apple’s first iPhone to lack a Home button, was a huge moment in itself for the smartphone industry. Suddenly, everyone was scrambling to create all-screen devices that ditched physical buttons and relied on gesture controls. Apple set the tone and everyone else fell in line.
If this foldable screen MacBook is discontinued, it could have a similar effect on the MacBook line. Like the iPhone of the mid-2010s, the MacBook is a mature device. Its revisions are mostly minor—adding a few more ports here, improving the display there. Most of its innovations are now in-house (like Apple’s excellent chips). This can be a significant shake-up to keep the news out.
And you know what you would do with it? A huge, foldable display ditches the physical keyboard instead of a virtual one. This allows the keyboard to disappear when you don’t need it, providing more screen real estate for the best Mac apps, games, movies, or whatever else you want. Imagine flipping your MacBook over a giant painting or monitor. It can completely transform the way you use your device.
The iPhone X parallels are strong. Although the original iPhone eschewed a physical keyboard in favor of more screen space, it was still limited by the technology of the time and came with thick bezels and a discrete Home button. Meanwhile, the iPhone X was much closer to Steve Jobs’ vision of the iPhone. This gave it enormous flexibility – you got more screen space for your content and a virtual keyboard when you needed it. It looks like the foldable MacBook could achieve something very similar – and it’s exciting.
A huge risk
As you can imagine, there is also a lot of risk involved. On the one hand, losing a physical keyboard can be a death blow if Apple screws it up. Touch typists will be outraged, and while rumors suggest Apple might include a separate keyboard with the device, it’s just one more thing to carry around. That sounds like a recipe for disaster.
However, there may be a glimmer of hope. Apple has filed patents for a morphed glass keyboard that morphs into keys when needed. It sounds pretty space-age, but if Apple can include it in the foldable MacBook, we’ll get the feel of a physical keyboard. and A giant display that is not limited by traditional keys. We’ve had our cake and eaten it too – provided Apple gets it right.
This whole device is a big risk, but so was the iPhone X, and it left an indelible mark on the smartphone industry, once again proving Apple’s leading role in innovation. Apple CEO Tim Cook should consider doing it again with the MacBook line.