Apple iPhone 7 is set to launch in September, and reports have said that Cupertino is sticking with the aluminium body for now. However, a glass iPhone with an OLED curved edge display could launch in 2017, on 10th year anniversary for Apple’s iPhone. Now a new set of patents to Apple has been published online by the US Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO) online, which were granted in 2015 and highlight that Apple have been working on this technology for sometime.
According to Patently Apple, a set of 80 patents granted to Apple have been published, and one of them talks of an iPhone with a curved display with active sidewalls and virtual buttons. Apple patent number 9,411,451, supports an older 2013 Apple patent, which also talked about the curved display for a smartphone. Apple is known to work on secret projects and products years in advance, and only launches them when the technology has been perfected.
According to the patent, it talks of electronic devices which will contain flexible displays, “bent to form displays on multiple surfaces of the devices.” The text in the patent reads, “Electronic devices may be provided that contain flexible displays that are bent to form displays on multiple surfaces of the devices. Bent flexible displays may be bent to form front side displays and edge displays.
Edge displays may be separated from front side displays or from other edge displays using patterned housing members, printed or painted masks, or by selectively activating and inactivating display pixels associated with the flexible display.”
The patent goes on to add the Edge display, which will function as a virtual button or informational display to supplement the main front display, and these virtual buttons may rely on “haptic feedback components, audio feedback components, or other components for providing feedback to a user” when they are activated. It also says such flexible display can be “formed using flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display technology,” another feature which is rumoured will be introduced with the iPhone 8 series.
The patent also says the “edge displays may be used to display scrollable lists such as artist or song lists, etc,” and a user can scroll the information on this edge display horizontally or vertically. It sound similar to what the Samsung Galaxy S6, S7 edge offer with the edge display, which shows some information at a glance. On the virtual buttons, it proposes these buttons can customised and could control functions like volume, etc and a certain action like scrolling, tapping, etc can be set for each particular function.
Such an iPhone sounds vastly different from the current iPhone 6, 6s series which still has physical buttons and an aluminium body frame. Apple is expected to stick with a similar design for the iPhone 7, and earlier reports from analysts have indicated the glass body, OLED display iPhone will only launch in 2017. The latest patent update is only going to raise expectations for this device, which is still more than a year away from an official launch.