Speculation is rising that Apple is working on a foldable iPhone, which can be called the iPhone Flip, and now reports from Asian supply chain sources say that the requisite durability tests have just been passed by two prototypes.
These prototypes are just phone shells, as per the United Daily News, which we believe include the casings and the screens, but not the various technical components. They were apparently tested in China at a factory run by Foxconn, Apple’s main supplier.
Like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip or the Motorola Razr, one prototype is said to be using a clamshell form factor. The device has one large, unbroken display when it opens up, and afterwards, the upper half folds down over the lower half.
Much like the Microsoft Surface Duo, the second prototype has a dual-screen design: it opens up like a book, with a hinge running down the centre of two different screens. It is not clear, as yet, whether Apple has any preference for one model or the other.
Foldable iPhone is a Hinge Based Mechanism
A new patent filing, demonstrating the hinge mechanism that Apple could use on one of its foldable iPhone designs, has been released in the meantime. It would cause the phone to fold inwards (like the Galaxy Z Fold 2) and outwards in both ways (like the Huawei Mate Xs).
The patent entitled “Folding Electronic Devices With Geared Hinges” describes the need to give customers as much real estate as possible on the screen without making the device too voluminous, which is where the folding display fits in.
This one shows a possible concept instead of an end product, as always with patents, and there is no assurance that Apple will actually be going with this dual-direction hinge. We’ve also seen numerous hinge prototypes protected in previous Apple patents, possibly for a foldable iPhone.
With so much data leaking out, it seems obvious that Apple is at least serious about considering an iPhone Flip model if it can meet the requisite quality and reliability requirements. Don’t expect the device to appear at the earliest until 2022, though.