Apple has reportedly asked its suppliers to make samples of foldable iPhone models. Chinese media reports claim that the California-based tech giant plans to launch a foldable iPhone in 2022, and has begun testing how it would look like.
Apple has asked its long-time supplier Foxconn and Nippon Nippon (aka New Nikko) to send samples of the foldable screen. Alongside the screen, the company has also asked the suppliers to test the hinge, testing it for more than 1 lakh use cycles during its lifetime, reported 9to5Mac, citing Chinese media site Economic Daily.
The foldable screen is likely to be provided by Samsung, whereas New Nikko will manufacture the hinge for the first foldable iPhone. Foxconn will take care of the assembly, the report added.
"In the past, the number of folding tests for laptop hinges was about 20,000 to 30,000, and those with better specifications were up to 50,000. However, the test for mobile phones requires more than 100,000, and the specifications are more stringent. It is generally expected that the first foldable iPhone will use hinges [from] Taiwanese manufacturers such as Nippon Nippon, which has cooperated highly with Apple in the notebook business in the past," the report said.
Apple is yet to decide whether to go ahead with OLED or microLED technology for the foldable display. Screens using MicroLED are thinner, brighter, use less power, and are more durable than the OLED displays that are increasingly being adopted for a variety of smart devices. The new standard is, however, difficult to use.
There have been rumours of Apple working on a foldable iPhone for a very long time. The company had filed a patent for its flagship smartphone with a display that can be 'opened and closed like a book' in 2017. The report suggests that the design of the possible new iPhone looks like two phones stitched together. However, the patent notes state that the phone will have a single sheet of foldable display.
YouTuber Jon Prosser, in June 2020, had claimed to have received inputs on a possible "foldable iPhone" that poses a dual-screen design with a hinge in between. This Apple foldable iPhone will have two separate displays that look "fairly continuous and seamless" when extended.
A recent report recently claimed that Apple will discontinue the iPad Mini model when it launches its foldable iPhone. The reports are in line with previous rumours that have suggested that Apple's first foldable device will resemble an iPad rather than an iPhone. It is also expected to run on iPadOS rather than iOS.
We are months away, if not years, from the first foldable iPhone launch to happen. Currently, Samsung, Huawei, and Motorola have an edge over others when it comes to folding screen smartphones. Samsung has launched multiple foldable smartphones, with the most recent one being the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2