Sunday, January 17

Apple reportedly tested two types of foldable-screen iPhones

Rather discreet in the battle of the folding screen smartphone, Apple would not have abandoned the subject. Two iPhone prototypes have reportedly recently passed durability tests.

Source: Unsplash / Laurenz Heymann

Gamesdone: Unsplash / Laurenz Heymann

If there’s one player missing in the foldable screen smartphone battle, it’s Apple. Huawei, Samsung, Oppo, Xiaomi, Motorola and many others have already moved forward, officially or on tiptoe through unveiled concepts. But the apple brand remains silent. And yet, we have known for years that prototypes are being studied.

Since 2017, patent applications and even patents obtained by Apple show an interest of the Californian firm in the subject. It was even rumored that a first device could have seen the light of day in 2020. But the global situation has undoubtedly changed the situation, or the importance for Apple to show a product only if it is finished (or at least its validated design) is a possible explanation.

Two different design options

And the rumor resurfaces. According to the Taiwanese newspaper Economic Daily News, two prototypes of Apple-signed folding smartphones have passed durability tests at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen (China), relays the site MacRumors.

The first model would be a kind of iPhone with two separate screens, but connected to each other via a hinge to operate continuously. This is reminiscent of a patent obtained by Apple last March for a technology that would allow several devices (and therefore several screens) to be linked together so that they function as if they were only one. A choice in line with Microsoft’s Surface Duo.

The diagram of a patent obtained by Apple for a technology with two combined screens

The diagram of a patent obtained by Apple for a technology with two combined screens

It is also the model mentioned by the leaker Jon Prosser last June and the one who has been whispering for several years. A new one patent application filed by Apple made its appearance last week. This time it details a hinge with two rolling systems for opening.

New patent application for foldable iPhone hinge appears in December 2020

A new patent application for a foldable iPhone hinge appears in December 2020 // Gamesdone: USPTO

The second model tested at Foxconn is similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip. It would be more of an iPhone that folds in half lengthwise. According to different reports, it has a single flexible Oled display provided by Samsung. This is in line with the rumors that circulated in 2020 that Apple had tested several foldable screen samples.

Nothing more was leaked on the tests undergone by the two prototypes, as the initial goal was to assess the durability and strength of their hinge. It is also not known whether the systems are different on the two devices. The UDN report, obtained by the Taiwanese media, simply indicates that the tests are complete. Several previous reports had already mentioned foldable iPhones sent to the factory to undergo more than 100,000 opening and closing tests.

No foldable iPhone before 2022

Information that supports that of Jon Prosser who put the subject back on the table at the end of December – with probably the same sources as Economic Daily News. The leaker then evoked two iPhone having undergone tests and being evaluated at Apple.

Both iPhone models are unlikely to see the light of day. Apple is most likely using this testing phase to decide which design will best meet its design requirements and the uses that Tim Cook’s firm intends to assign to it. It is just as unlikely that the lucky winner will arrive for a few years. UDN even sees 2022 at the earliest, but without really believing in it.

If Apple has clearly not abandoned the idea and has been working hard on it since 2016, the democratization of the foldable smartphone is probably not immediately without the weight of the Apple brand. Samsung and other Huawei or Xiaomi to wipe the plasters before.

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