Apple reportedly ready to start testing foldable iPhone prototypes

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An iPhone concept shows a realistic folding iPhone design
Just don't expect to see it until 2022 at the earliest.
Photo: ConceptsiPhone

Apple has asked a number of manufacturing partners to begin building foldable iPhone prototypes, according to a new report. Foxconn and Nippon Nippon have been tasked with providing samples for testing.

It is believed the first foldable iPhone could make its debut as early as 2022.

Rumors surrounding a foldable iPhone have been piling up since a number of Apple’s rivals in the mobile industry — including Samsung, Huawei, and Motorola — launched foldable phones of their own.

None of those devices have been a particularly huge success, partly due to their hefty price tags, but that doesn’t appear to have changed Apple’s plans. A foldable iPhone may still be on the way.

Apple orders foldable iPhone samples

“According to the supply chain, Apple is currently testing key components such as the screen and hinges of the folding device in order to make the first folding iPhone available as soon as possible,” reports Chinese newspaper Economic Daily.

“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.”

It is believed Apple expects those hinges to withstand more than 100,000 operations. That’s more than double the number of operations expected from laptop hinges, the report adds, but it is rightly believed a foldable iPhone will be opened and closed more frequently.

Apple will be keen to avoid the early teething problems faced by Samsung, which saw its first foldable phone plagued by reliability issues. Some early adopters suffered all manner of hardware failures, forcing Samsung to cancel preorders.

Samsung and Foxconn step up

Samsung is expected to provide the iPhone’s first foldable displays. The South Korean company is already manufacturing flexible panels for its Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Flip line of smartphones. Foxconn, Apple’s biggest manufacturing partner, will reportedly handle assembly.

Apple hasn’t yet decided whether its first foldable iPhone will have an OLED or microLED display, the report adds. These are not to be confused with the mini-LED screens Apple is rumored to be bringing to iPad, MacBook, and other products starting next year.