Over a third of consumers surveyed by UBS recently had "reasonably high" interest in buying a folding smartphone, which the firm said is "particularly important for Apple" and its iPhone.
"Price remains the key hurdle in most consumers' minds, while the adequate average premium vs regular smartphones surveyed to be c. US$400-500," UBS analysts wrote in a note to investors.
"The survey indicates greater willingness to pay a premium (c. $600) and generally higher interest among Apple buyers for foldable products," UBS added.
UBS said Samsung "dominates" intellectual property filings for folding display and device technologies, and the bank expects "Samsung will lead the way for foldable adoption as a smartphones vendor." But Apple is steadily working on the technology and UBS believes a folding Apple product could come next year, although it said "2021 is more likely." UBS thinks the first folding Apple product is more likely to be an iPad than an iPhone.
"This suggests that the industry will need to work to further reduce costs for foldable mobile devices to take off as a products category," UBS said.
The firm's survey also identified China as likely the most receptive of folding smartphones, which UBS said is "reminiscent of how it drove larger displays smartphones adoption."
– CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this report.