The futuristic iPhone Flip seems closer than ever thanks to this latest Apple foldable phone leak.
Economic Daily News (opens in new tab), citing sources in Apple's supply chain, claims that sample iPhone Flip devices are currently undergoing testing with Apple manufacturer Foxconn in Taiwan.
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The tests reportedly include a focus on the display and bearings within the phone, with a goal of opening and closing the iPhone Flip 100,000 times. That's over three times more than comparable tests for laptop hinges, which is to be expected given how much more frequently a user is likely to open up their phone compared to their laptop.
Foldable phones are much more fragile than the standard smartphone, and making sure that the flexible portion of the display will work reliably through the phone's life is crucial. Apple would never want to end up with a mechanical mess like Samsung faced with the original Samsung Galaxy Fold, after all. Early review samples of Samsung's first foldable phone suffered from screen damage, with dirt and debris getting under the display.
Coincidentally, Samsung is reportedly involved in this testing process since it is reportedly manufacturing the display for the iPhone Flip. Samsung makes a lot of displays for other smartphone companies, so this isn't surprising. Meanwhile, component manufacturers New Nikko and Nippon Nippon are reportedly responsible for making the bearings that will help the hinges work smoothly.
Other reports claim this foldable will use either an OLED or mini LED display, either of which would make sense. Apple currently uses OLED on the iPhone 12 series, but mini LED is believed to be coming to the next generation of iPad Pro and other devices next year. Since the two displays require different parts and processes to make, Apple will presumably select whichever display type performs better on the tests.
Since the phone's still in testing, and is Apple's first attempt at a foldable, we still have some time to wait before it launches. Current estimates reckon we'll see it at the latest in September 2022, long after next year's iPhone 13. We could even see it launch alongside what will presumably be the iPhone 14.