Before I get into this new story, let’s get one thing straight- no matter what anyone is saying right now, Apple has been working on a folding iPhone. Whatever forms that has taken and however far they have gone, their patent filings alone prove they have been prototyping and kicking the tires for a few years. That said, there is a new report today that Apple is taking things to the next level when it comes to foldables.
According to the Chinese-language Economic Daily News, Apple has Foxconn testing folding iPhone prototypes with a goal of releasing hardware by 2022. They say their supply chain sources have informed them that Samsung will supply the displays for these devices. However, it seems there is some question about the display type.
If EDN is correct, Apple will be choosing between using a folding OLED display similar to the one Samsung uses in their current foldables and a Micro-LED display. The display that works best will ultimately determine the form factor of the device. The article also says that Apple will have Foxconn putting the bearings for the folding hinges through their paces to the tune of 100,000 opens and closes.
The most interesting part of this entire article to me is the part about Micro-LED. The fact that Micro-LED screen tech has come far enough that Apple might be prototyping it on an iPhone is news. That’s been an up and coming new screen type for a few years now, but we’ve repeatedly heard that it isn’t quite ready for the Apple Watch, where it has been expected to appear first. It must not be too far off if Apple is testing folding iPhones with Micro-LED. It is supposed to allow for thinner designs that are also more energy efficient, which all sounds good to me.
As for the prospects for a folding iPhone, I am excited to see another rumor making the rounds. The more they appear, the more likely that the smoke means that there is actually some fire here. After trying out both the Microsoft Surface Duo and Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2, I’m glad to see some evidence that Apple may be seriously considering getting into the foldables race.
While both of those devices were interesting, neither was quite enough to get me to part with their high asking prices. The Duo came with too many compromises for too few benefits, but the Fold 2 was actually quite good. I just didn’t feel secure enough that it was fully ready to hold up to a year’s worth of abuse. Not for $1,800, at least.
However, the prospect of a foldable device running iOS that is a bit more stable and fully-baked definitely has my attention. And I do appreciate reports that Apple is already focused on and invested in quality control and stability. That’s exactly what I expect from them, especially with a newer form factor.
Right now this is just one report from a source with a decent supply chain track record. Things will get a lot more interesting if some of the heavy hitters of the Apple leak game, such as Jon Prosser, L0vetodream or Mark Gurman weight in supporting these or similar Apple foldable rumors. Until then, this report is at least an interesting start down the road to a potential Apple foldable.