Apple's plans for a foldable iPhone, or iPhone Flip, are an open secret thanks to an influx of rumors and patent filings in recent weeks. Yet the latest leak suggests that Apple has progressed beyond the planning stage and is actively working on its foldable phone prototype.
Economic Daily News (via MacRumors) reported on Monday that Apple has sent several prototypes to its manufacturing supplier Foxconn for testing. According to the report, Apple is aiming to make it capable of withstanding at least 100,000 folds, and is weighing whether to use an OLED or micro-LED display.
We also know when Apple will allegedly aim to release this new phone: September 2022, which would coincide, theoretically, with the iPhone 14. It's not clear whether this phone would be the iPhone 14, or a separate model released concurrently.
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We don't know more about Apple's prototypes yet, but the company has traditionally produced most of its iPhones at the Foxconn campus in Taiwan for years. That portion of the report certainly rings true, but we'll have to wait for further information before accepting any of this information as fact.
A leak last week suggested that this foldable iPhone would replace the iPad Mini in Apple's lineup, sell for $1,499 (around £1,100 / AU$2,100), sport 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, and arrive in 2022. Yet the leaker in question doesn't have a great success rate with predictions, so take this information with a few grains of salt.
What we know and suspect about the iPhone Flip
We've seen several patents from Apple concerning its foldable iPhone in the past two years. Yet just as Apple has multiple prototypes in production, these patents only show possible avenues the phone could take, not insider information.
The first patent in early 2019 showed designs for a foldable iPhone with a single display that folds in on itself, including one sketch for a twice-folding iPhone that would look like a Z when closed.
An Apple Z-Phone seems especially unlikely, but according to a leak earlier this year from Jon Prosser, the iPhone Flip could actually be made of two separate displays connected by a hinge, not a single foldable screen.
A more recent patent discovered in October suggests that Apple hopes to make this new phone out of a material that could automatically repair any scratches or dents over time, using 'externally applied heat, light, electric current, or other type of external stimulus.'
Similarly, another October Apple patent showed the company has conceived of a protective 'hardcoat layer' for foldable phones that would both prevent cracks forming and fill in any micro-cracks that develop over time.