Ctrl+Alt+Del: A foldable MacBook is a terrible idea

OPINION: There’s been plenty of speculation surrounding when Apple will get in on the foldable game. The latest rumour points towards a foldable MacBook being one of its first folding devices – that’s a truly awful idea.

Have you used a foldable laptop? And, don’t come at me with the “all laptops are foldable” line. Laptops are two pieces connected with a hinge. What makes a foldable laptop “foldable” is the bending display.

Now that PSA is over, I’ll say that I’ve used a few foldable laptops now and they are just bad. And, that’s why Apple should put this idea on the shelf and go down a different route.

Foldable laptops are bad

So what makes foldable laptops so bad? Well, I want to clarify some redeeming qualities first. There have only been a few so far but HP’s first effort was quite strong, with the Spectre Fold offering a stunning display, decent performance and a refined design.

However, the various modes afforded by its folding nature were cumbersome and, above all, it cost a breathtaking £5000/$5000. I’ll pause while you pick your collective jaws up off the floor.

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HP Spectre Fold – Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Then, there was our most recent foldable laptop review from Deputy Editor Ryan Jones. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 seemed troubled from the start, taking over a year to launch following its initial announcement.

Despite its headstart, the device fell short of HP’s debut offering. Ryan called out its lack of a built-in kickstand, small screen, disappointing battery life and a price in the UK that is almost more jaw-dropping than HP’s. Oddly, it comes in at £4389 in the UK, compared with a more reasonable but still astounding $2499 in the US.

The aforementioned Zenbook 17 Fold OLED was an acceptable effort for a first try from Asus, but it still came with an initial high price tag of £3299/$3999.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 – Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

These high prices lead to a sense of dread regarding what Apple could charge for a foldable MacBook. But other running themes have me concerned too.

All the devices offer poor battery life, an awkwardly creased and reflective display as well as a real lack of direction when it comes to justifying why this form factor is worthy of existing. A huge display on the go sounds like a great idea in practice but, so far, it’s leading to far too many sacrifices.

Apple should make a dual-screen MacBook instead

Now, I’m well aware that Apple could burst onto the foldable scene and provide an experience more refined than what has gone before.

But, I just want to ask…why? Why bother making a foldable MacBook and all the pitfalls that it brings when there’s a simpler solution that provides clear benefits? Apple doesn’t need to jump on the foldable trend for the sake of it.

Lenovo Yoga Book 9i – Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Instead, Apple should make a dual-screen laptop. Let’s return to Lenovo and Asus once again to see just how well this alternative take on a new style of laptop can go. Lenovo’s Yoga Book 9i was far from perfect but it won me over as an excellent way of having more screen space on the go, and that’s in stark contrast to the same brand’s lacklustre ThinkPad X1 Fold 16.

Admittedly, it still came at a high price (around £2000/$2000) for fairly simple internals, but Asus has come along and said, “Pish posh” to that notion.

Asus Zenbook Duo – Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The Asus Zenbook Duo (2024) knocked the socks off of our reviewer. Like the Lenovo, the dual-screen setup is truly useful in various modes, enhancing productivity and viewing experience while still being immensely portable. Asus refined the form factor too, building in a stand as well as providing a full-size laptop keyboard and trackpad offering.

With the dual-screen concept, Apple has the opportunity to make something new and exciting while bringing its signature style and usability. If other rumours are to be believed, Apple could potentially take this idea even further too.

Last year, I wrote about how Apple should make its own Surface Book, stemming from a patent suggesting the tech giant could be looking into a device that could be a dual-screen device but also let you swap one screen for an attachment similar to the bottom half of a keyboard.

That would be an adaptable wonder that would take the dual-screen MacBook idea to another level. But, let’s not get carried away. The more immediate and realistic bottom line is: foldable laptops are bad and Apple shouldn’t bother – all signs point towards a dual-screen MacBook being a far better device.

Ctrl+Alt+Del is our weekly computing-focused opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of PCs, laptops, handhelds, peripherals and more. Get it straight into your email inbox every Saturday by signing up to the newsletter.

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