Two Foldable iPhone Prototypes Reportedly Pass Internal Durability Tests
Two prototype foldable iPhones have passed internal tests for durability, according to Taiwanese website Economic Daily News.
Tests of an Apple-designed folding hinge system for two different iPhones were reportedly recently completed at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China.
The first foldable iPhone to undergo testing is said to be a dual-screen model, which is likely the same dual-display prototype rumored by Jon Prosser in June 2020. Prosser explained at the time that this model used two separate display panels connected by a hinge. Though the prototype iPhone features two separate displays connected by a hinge, Prosser claimed that the panels look "fairly continuous and seamless." It is also of note that Apple has patented a device with two separate displays that can be brought together to create a single foldable device with a hinge, which sounds strikingly similar to the rumored dual-screen Apple foldable.
The second prototype to have undergone testing is reportedly a clamshell foldable, much like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip or Lenovo's Moto RAZR. The UDN report claims that this clamshell model is set to use a flexible Samsung OLED display. Previous reports have also said that Apple ordered a "large number" of Samsung foldable mobile phone display samples for testing purposes earlier in 2020.
It is unclear if the two devices to have been tested had different hinge systems. The test units are purported to be shells with very limited internals rather than fully-working devices. This is because the main purpose of the testing was to assess the durability of the Apple-designed hinge system. The report states that now the testing has concluded, Apple is expected to evaluate which of the two foldable models to proceed with, and only one will be carried forwards into continued development.
The findings of this report also appear to have been mirrored by sources speaking to Jon Prosser. Prosser explained in a recent Front Page Tech video that there were two prototype foldable iPhones in testing, including one with two display panels and one clamshell with a single flexible OLED display. Prosser's sources also said that these units have passed durability testing and are now being evaluated by Apple.
A report from November 2020 stated that Apple had sent foldable iPhones to Foxconn to test the folding bearings with over 100,000 opening and closing tests, which appears to be analogous to the newly-concluded run of testing. Given the consistency of rumors surrounding foldable iPhones from multiple sources, particularly related to testing, they may be more credible.
UDN predicts that a foldable iPhone will not emerge until late 2022 or 2023 at the earliest. Apple has filed for a large number of patents relating to a foldable iPhone dating back to 2016, and it seems highly likely that work on a foldable iPhone is progressing.