Intel says foldable screen laptop PCs are coming to market in 2022

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Intel has announced design specs for PCs with foldable displays.
  • The spec includes 17-inch AMOLED screens made by Samsung.
  • These new PCs are expected to ship in 2022 with new Intel 12th Gen processors.

Intel has today announced a new foldable display spec for its PC partners that will enable new and unique device form factors with foldable screens. Intel says the first foldable PCs adopting this new spec will begin shipping this year, opening the door to a flurry of new and unique Windows PCs.

Update Jan 5, 2021: ASUS has since announced its first foldable PC called the ZenBoook 17 Fold.

Foldable screens enable a number of new form factors and postures, including laptop, tablet, tabletop, journal, and dual-angle devices. We've already seen Lenovo attempt a foldable Windows PC with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, but that device was met with lacklustre reviews because of the underpowered chip and unoptimized Windows 10 OS.

This year, new Foldable PCs with Intel will be shipping on Intel's Evo spec, which includes Intel 12th-gen chips and focuses on being responsive, with instant wake, fast charging, and "real world" battery life. These new Foldable PCs will be in a much better place as a result, good news for Windows users looking for a new foldable PC.

That leaves Windows, which still isn't in a great place regarding optimizations for foldable PCs. Perhaps we'll hear more about support for foldable screens within Windows over the coming months. Microsoft is expected to ship the next major update for Windows 11 in the second half of 2022, which may be where we see more support for foldable displays arrive.

Intel Foldable Spec

Source: Intel (Image credit: Source: Intel)

The success of foldable PCs will depend heavily on how Windows adapts to support them. Without any optimizations, foldable PCs will never be truly useful. Microsoft will need to work on updating Windows 11 with the right optimizations to make use of the many new postures that are introduced when your screen can fold.

Intel has been working with Microsoft and Samsung for some time on foldable technology. The companies were rumored to be working together on something called the "Horseshoe Bend Project" as far back as 2020, which coveres 17-inch Foldable PC standards. It's clear that "foldable" technology is a focal point for a number of these big tech companies.

Microsoft had already attempted to ship a "foldable" PC, albeit with two screens instead of one foldable display, in 2020 with the Surface Neo. Unfortunately, that PC was canceled for a number of reasons. Perhaps Microsoft will try again with a single-screen foldable PC instead?

It's clear that foldable screens are coming to the PC space soon. Intel anticipates more hardware makers will be announcing PCs with foldable displays this year, all powered by Intel chips. I'm curious to see if AMD and Qualcomm jump in on the foldable PC trend soon as well, as so far it seems to be just Intel pioneering this effort.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • I like the concept of foldable PCs, but I really don't think Windows 11 is very much set for foldable displays. Here is a case where I believe that the display and hardware tech are far ahead of the OS side. I love foldables, and own the Surface Duo (v1), but as someone using a foldable device with software not ready for the tech, I am concerned about foldable tech coming out with a non-dedicated OS.
  • It should be interesting to see how things turn out. I agree, I don't think Windows is where it needs to be to function properly on a folding screen laptop. We are talking essentially a large Windows tablet and at this point, Windows doesn't feel intuitive enough for an all screen device. I barely use my Surface Pro in tablet mode, unless I'm reading something. Hopefully, the OS will be updated to address the perceived issues, before these devices hit the market. With so many two - in-one devices available l, you'd think MS would have been ahead of this. As for the Duo/Duo 2, I want 5o see devices like this succeed and not trail off to nothingness. I have the Duo 2 and love the device, especially after the last update. I'm hoping to see more improvements and features with future updates. I'm hoping there will be some continued improvements with the January update and possibly some "New" /missing features for the Launcher. No reason for Launcher on Duo/Duo 2 to still not have the same features that Launcher has on my Note 8.
  • This will be interesting. As GothardJ2 noted, Win 11 is not ready for this. IMHO, mostly because it is a step backwards on tablet functionality. Honestly Win 8 was pretty close, but they forced it on desktops, which ticked people off. They have been undoing that ever since. I have Win 11 on a Surface and yea, it's OK, as long as I have a keyboard clipped to it. Win 10 in tablet mode was OK as a tablet, but even that is gone in Win 11. If anyone thinks people are going to relish typing on a glass keyboard when folded like a laptop, they are delusional. People didn't even like the original touch keyboard for Surfaces. This is going to amount to a folding monitor for which you need to supply a physical keyboard of some sort. Unless...MS gets serious about making a Win OS that really works in tablet mode, not just 'can be used' in tablet mode.
  • OK, look, seriously, if Microsoft are going to take the time to make windows work on a foldable, then there's really no reason why they shouldn't be working on getting Windows on duel screens (Neo and Duo). I mean, honestly, why does a foldable Windows 11 device make more sense than a duel screen windows 11 device?
  • The foldable in that pic looks awful, sorry. I don't think we're there yet. Give me two screens like the Duo.
  • “… new and unique Windows PCs.” Some would say that’s a contradiction. It may be a “unique PC”, but it will still be running same old same old Windows.
  • Correct me if I'm wrong here but in the Intel spec shown in the article, the image in the upper left and the one just below it are poor imitations of the Surface book. Similarly, the tabletop and tablet are already here with any Surface Pro. That leaves us with dual angle and journal, which are essentially the same, running an OS that has continued to strip out and de-emphasize the touch experience. Somebody better get to work if this is going to run W11.
  • The devices shown are a single device with different postures, including a couple with a magnetically attached keyboard. W10 stripped out many touch and tablet features found in W8, but W11 adds tablet and touch functionality.
  • "but W11 adds tablet and touch functionality." Right. What would that be? Bigger icons, spaced farther apart? They have completely striped out tablet mode, which wasn't stellar, wasn't persistant in later builds, but was actually there.
  • Agreed. But I wouldn't quite say deemphasize touch. Windows 11 added touch gestures and just gave up on the terrible Tablet Mode for an interface that doesn't jarringly change to a totally different UX when a keyboard is detached. The changes aren't enough to make foldables nice to use though.
  • "doesn't jarringly change to a totally different UX when a keyboard is detached." That was an option initially. You could say tablet always, desktop always, always switch, or always ask. They eliminated the first choice. What touch gestures did they add we didn't already have?
  • "New form factor" we can try to sell more stuff to more people. (translation: we don't have a use case yet... but we're still looking...)
  • How do you know that they don't have a use case? You just made that up because you think being cynical is cool.
  • "so we can try to sell more stuff to more people."
    Yes, you figured out the entire reason for capitalism, the market, and consumerism that applies to every level of the entire global economy. Congratulations, you win nothing because everyone knows this. Next, you're going to drop the knowledge bomb that corporations only care about making money.
  • The idea seems a bit of a non-starter now Windows 10X (Windows 11X) is cancelled. Windows has never been great on tablets (*), let alone foldables. It's just not what it's designed for. * Windows 11 is still perfectly fine on my Surface Pro X though, but it's not optimal.