A new Apple Patent Describes a Hinge System for Future Folding iDevices just as Rumors claim Foxconn is testing such a hinge
While Apple has been working on foldable iDevices for years, new rumors of Apple working on a folding device continue to surface. One of the most recent rumors surfaced today in Taiwan titled " Apple folding machine passed Foxconn test." More specifically, Foxconn was testing Apples hinge system for durability.
The United Daily News rumor report noted that "Apple is developing two new devices, one of which is a dual-screen model, excluding a folding model, and the other is a model with a recessed top and bottom, similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip or Lenovo’s Moto RAZR.
At present, the shells of these two folding devices are being tested at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, because they are not incomplete mobile phones, but are used to test the durability of the folding hinge. As for the model that folds up and down, it may be a folding screen model that is actually equipped with Samsung's flexible OLED screen panel. It is expected that after the test, Apple will evaluate the most likely model to launch and abandon the other model.
On the last patent application day of 2020, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a new iDevice hinge system that may in fact be the one that was tested at Foxconn.
Apple states that their invention covers an electronic device that may have a foldable display. A foldable housing or other support structure may be used in supporting the foldable display during folding and unfolding. First and second support structures may be joined at a hinge. The hinge allows the support structures to rotate relative to each other during folding and unfolding.
The hinge may include toothed members such as gears and a rack member. The rack member may have a surface with curved portions. The gears may include rotating gears that walk along the curved portions of the rack member as the electronic device is folded and unfolded.
The hinge may include gears that are fixedly attached to the first and second housing portions and that engage the rotating gears. Linkage members may hold together the rotating gears, fixed gears, and the rack member.
Apple's patent FIGS. 1 and 4 illustrate an iDevice (iPhone or iPad) in both the unfolded and folded positions; FIGS. 6 and 7 are side views of the illustrative hinge mechanism; and FIG. 10 is a side view of the illustrative hinge mechanism in use during device folding.
Apple's patent application number 20200409428 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q2 2020 with a provisional patent having been filed a year earlier. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.