While no Apple patent necessarily guarantees a final product, today’s for a curved display is particularly interesting – especially now that, as of this week, Samsung has launched three “Edge” devices. Apple’s patent suggests that the company either had plans or has plans to create an iPhone with a display that shows information on a flat plane on the side of their device, with a display that curves (hidden) on the inside of the phone. How strange!
As you’ll see in the first image above and to the left, Apple has what’s basically a more flattened-out iPhone in a drawing. The size, shape, and proportions don’t matter especially since this is a patent drawing, not a design specification for a finalized phone.
What’s key here, though, is the lack of a physical press-in home button. What Apple is proposing here on all sides is that they’d be switching do a device without physical buttons (except maybe an on/off/lock button up top).
This is shown again on the side of the device where Apple describes how “the edge portion may include virtual buttons specific to a software application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.”
This means developers would, obviously, need to make their app work with this unique type of display, allowing for controls to hang over the edge.
What’s important about the design here isn’t so much that the edge is curved – LCDs can curve, after all, and as Samsung has shown over the past couple of years, Super AMOLED display can curve and be especially brilliant while they do so.
What’s important here is that Apple wouldn’t necessarily attempt to utilize the entirety of the display like Samsung does. Instead, Apple would dismiss the part of the display that’s curving, focusing on the flat bits up top and on the edge.
One version of the edge of the iPhone – shown above (in FIG .3) – has a flat, sharp set of sides. There the edge of the phone is at an angle, but still flat. Below (in FIG .4) you’ll see a curved version Apple also presents in the patent application.
According to the USPTO-filed patent, “FIG. 8 is a side view of an illustrative edge display portion of a flexible display showing how user input may be used to change the operating mode of an electronic device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.”
See that part that used to be volume buttons?
It’d change depending on what app you’re using.
Sound like a good idea to you? We’re going to go ahead and assume this sort of design would be best suited for a sort of iPhone 4-like design instead of the iPhone 6 rounded-edge design we have today.