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Foldable iPhone reportedly in testing as release timeframe leaks

Published Nov 16th, 2020 6:45PM EST
Image: ConceptsiPhone

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  • A fresh iPhone rumor claims that Apple may release a foldable iPhone 14 model in 2022.
  • Apple reportedly ordered several samples from a manufacturing partner so it can test the durability of its hinge design.
  • One prototype Apple is reportedly working on includes two displays connected by a hinge. When unfolded, however, the displays are said to be seamless.

A new report from the Economic Daily suggests that Apple is, in fact, developing a foldable iPhone prototype. The report claims that Apple recently ordered a number of prototype models so that the company can test the durability of its hinge design. Apple wants to ensure that the design can withstand 100,000 opening and closing actions. Whereas laptop quality assurance testing typically involves a system being tested for 20,000 to 30,000 openings, it’s no surprise that a smartphone — which is opened up multiple times through the course of a day — would demand more stringent testing.

“According to the supply chain,” the report goes on to say, “Apple is currently testing key components such as the screen and bearings of the folding machine in order to make the first folding iPhone available as soon as possible.”

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If all goes according to plan, the report indicates that we might see a foldable iPhone arrive in September of 2022. Per usual, the report should be taken with a grain of salt given that Apple routinely tests out prototypes for products that never see the light of day. A few years ago, there were persistent rumors of Apple designing its own branded HDTV. Subsequent reports relayed that Apple abandoned the product after failing to find a way to differentiate it in the marketplace. Similarly, it’s no secret that Apple for a period of time was also exploring the development of a car. Those plans also fell by the wayside.

To this end, recall the following quote from Steve Jobs: “I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”

That notwithstanding, a foldable iPhone does make a lot more sense than an Apple-branded HDTV or car ever did. Whereas the above two products wouldn’t really deliver all that much innovation to the market, the same can’t be said for a foldable iPhone. More broadly, Samsung’s recent efforts have shown that there is in fact a market for foldable devices. While the original Galaxy Fold was far from compelling, Samsung kept at it and eventually released the Galaxy Z flip, a device that was cleverly designed and surprisingly intuitive. What’s more, we’ve seen Apple in recent months file several patent applications involving foldable smartphones.

As to what a foldable iPhone might look like, noted leaker Jon Prosser a few months ago said that the device consists of “two separate display panels on a hinge” and “round, stainless steel edges.” The device reportedly doesn’t have a notch but rather incorporates a small forehead that houses an array of sensors like Face ID.

“It doesn’t look like they just stuck two phones together,” Prosser said. “Even though they’re two separate panels, when the displays are extended, it looks fairly continuous and seamless.”

Additionally, a leak that surfaced in September claimed that Apple ordered a “large number” of foldable display units from Samsung for testing.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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