Omdia, a renowned market research agency and consulting firm, predicts a groundbreaking development for Apple. This marks the beginning of a significant shift in the mobile landscape. Omdia recently held a press conference in Seoul, South Korea. Senior researcher Kang Min-soo talked about Apple’s OLED panel development plan and information about foldable screens at the event. Notable predictions are that the first foldable iPhone will arrive in 2026, while the OLED iPad Air will be launched in 2028.

7-8 inch foldable iPhone to be released in 2026

Since last year, there have been several rumors, speculations and even patents about Apple’s foldable iPhone. Foldable phones were popularized by Samsung and Huawei in 2019. Since then, these brands as well as others have released several foldable phones. However, we are yet to see the first foldable iPhone. Regarding the launch of the first foldable iPhone, Omdia said

We predict that Apple will release a 7-8 inch foldable iPhone in 2026, the iPhone SE4 released in 2025 will use low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) TFT OLED, and the entire iPhone 17 series released in the second half of next year, will be equipped with LTPO TFT… (7-8 inch foldable products) have more space in the design (than small foldable products of about 6 inches) and Apple can learn from the gameplay of the foldable phone which many competitors already did.

Currently, the only 7-8 inch product sold by Apple is the iPad Mini, which still uses an LCD. This is one area where the 7-8-inch foldable can differentiate itself from the iPad Mini.

Apple to release OLED iPad Air in 2028

Speaking about the OLED iPad Air, Kang predicted that Apple has serious plans for this product. He said

Apple’s iPad Pro plans to switch to an OLED panel this year, and we estimate that the iPad Air will also use OLED in 2028. In between, the iPad Air will use a single-layer stacked OLED, and the iPad Pro will use a dual-layer OLED series. The back panel technology (TFT) on both the iPad Air and iPad Pro will use low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO), and power consumption will be an important factor for future OLEDs.

OLED laptop

Kang believes that demand for OLED notebooks will continue to grow. For this reason, many brands will produce OLED notebooks and the competition will be high. He said

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OLED laptop demand is expected to expand due to the emergence of artificial intelligence or new high-end laptops. In the laptop market, unlike tablets, many brands compete with each other. We expect more companies to adopt OLED for differentiation.

Solid OLEDs use a glass substrate and a glass capsule, while single-stack OLEDs use a single light-emitting layer. Hybrid OLED (glass substrate + film shell) and two-layer tandem OLED (two light-emitting layers) (used in Apple’s OLED iPad) outperform existing solid OLEDs in terms of thickness, lifetime, and luminance (brightness). This means that PC brands are likely to use solid OLED as a relatively low-end product. Omdia predicts that global OLED shipments for notebook computers will exceed 5 million units in 2024. However, this figure will increase 10-fold to over 58 million units by 2030. Omdia’s year-by-year forecasts for notebook computer shipments are as follows

  • 3.3 million units in 2023
  • 5.1 million units in 2024
  • 7 million units in 2025
  • 18.5 million units in 2026
  • 29.4 million units in 2027
  • 42.7 million units in 2028
  • 49.2 million units in 2029
  • 58.1 million units in 2030.

Apple OLED iPad Pro will be released this year

According to Omdia, the company will introduce the OLED iPad Pro this year to promote the development of OLED tablets. Regarding this, Kang Min Soo said:

The tablet market is almost monopolized by Apple, and even if (other companies) use hybrid OLEDs (glass substrate + film), not many brands can surpass Apple’s dominance. There are not many brands actively adopting OLED (in the tablet market), so the global demand for OLED for tablets is expected to be quite low.

Samsung Display and LG Display are forecast to ship around 9 million iPad OLED devices this year. Apple may fine-tune shipments after seeing market response following the April-June OLED iPad Pro launch. LG Display produces 13-inch products and Samsung Display produces 11-inch products. Kang Min-soo estimates that global shipments of OLED tablets will exceed 10 million units in 2024. He claims that by 2028, this figure will reach 30 million units. However, it will remain just above 30 million units by 2030. Omdia’s year-by-year estimates for tablet shipments are as follows

  • 3.5 million units in 2023
  • 10.3 million units in 2024
  • 16.7 million units in 2025
  • 22.3 million units in 2026
  • 27.3 million units in 2027
  • 29.6 million units in 2028
  • 31.1 million units in 2029
  • 32.1 million units in 2030
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Omdia predicts that Apple will launch a foldable iPhone in 2026