Flip phones are notoriously difficult to master, and Samsung had to put up with a colossal flaw in display quality before breaking through with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and the Galaxy ZFold 4. Apple, on the other hand, is still on the fence and may be waiting for the technology to fully mature before it makes a splash with a potential foldable iPhone.
However, a team of enthusiasts couldn’t wait any longer and created their own working foldable iPhone. Now, unlike many other smartphone DIY projects, like the one-and-done iPhone X with a USB-C port, the foldable iPhone wonder looks like a well-designed unit. It took over 200 days to make, but it still has some fundamental shortcomings.
To begin with, the team Tech Aesthetics opted for the iPhone X’s flexible OLED panel, which is actually U-shaped at 180 degrees along the bottom edge, a choice Apple engineers made to achieve the thin chin at the bottom. Extracting it, however, was not exactly easy. The team worked in a temperature-controlled environment and used a special cable to separate the touchpad assembly to prevent damage.
Break, study and do again
It took months to master the process of delicately removing the glue while making sure the screen showed no signs of damage and retained its flexible nature to allow the device to bend. The team sacrificed 37 iPhone display kits before finally extracting the working layers without any line or pixel damage. The team then smashed the Galaxy ZFlip to study the hinge mechanism, but soon realized that the iPhone’s OLED panel, which isn’t supposed to fold like the proprietary folding screen technology developed by Samsung, won’t survive the same fold/unfold angles for long. weather.
Next, the team disassembled the flip phone Motorola Razr and got to the core of its folding parts. The team realized that the support plates that allow the folding screen assembly are more forgiving, and also leave a vertical gap measuring seven millimeters in the area where the screen folds.
Shaped almost like a large drop of water in the folding area, the team found the implementation of the Motorola Razr to be ideal because it is not only viable from a durability point of view, but also solves the problem of creasing. . Also, the screen and folding spindles aren’t integrated into a single unit, which was another engineering advantage. Trying to nail down the folding screen and supporting hinge mechanism took almost six months, but the next step was even more complicated. The team had to figure out the location of the motherboard and battery, which would now split into two collapsible halves while being linked by delicate connectors.
The team turned the iPhone X’s internal assembly upside down, placing the motherboard in the bottom half while pushing the battery to the top. The iPhone X’s dual-cell battery design helped engineers create the new design. However, due to size limitations, the team had to go with a custom lithium-ion pack with only a 1,000mAh capacity, which is less than a third of what modern iPhones offer. Needless to say, this experimental foldable iPhone wasn’t meant to last a full day of use. Next, the internal wiring had to be adjusted and a custom connector matrix was used to connect the components. Once the hardware was discovered, the team built some software experiences to take advantage of the foldable form factor.
The “iPhone V” foldable concept looks like a refined experiment, but it’s still extremely fragile and far from your daily driver. The team behind the ambitious project makes it abundantly clear that this one-of-a-kind device cannot survive repeated cycles of folding and unfolding. Also, the hinge design leaves the bottom exposed, which would almost certainly lead to issues if used every day.
After a few days of use, a crease becomes apparent despite the shallower flex profile compared to the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4. The brittleness issue is so severe that the display system completely breaks down in a few days. A certain company with a lot of talent and a few hundred billion dollars in the bank might do better here.
The custom wiring developed for the “rudimentary” foldable iPhone is also quite delicate and prone to breaking. The team also had to sacrifice the wireless charging kit to accommodate the innards in the two halves, and had to make do with a single speaker to save space.
Interestingly, the team says it will continue to refine its formula and will likely come up with a more polished version of its foldable iPhone idea for the foreseeable future. As for Apple, well, you may have to wait a few more years before the company makes one. Also, right now, iOS doesn’t seem ready for a foldable iPhone.
According to analyst Ross Young of Display Supply Chain Consultants, Apple’s first foldable iPhone probably won’t arrive before 2025 at the earliest. Bloomberg also reported last year that Apple is currently experimenting only with foldable display panels, and doesn’t have a working prototype of a foldable iPhone in one of its notoriously secret design labs.