The Samsung (005930) Galaxy Nexus/Nexus S and Dell (DELL) Venue Pro had two things in common: First, they were both terrific smartphones that never really lived up to their potential in terms of sales volume, having been overshadowed by more popular phones. Second, they each sported unique curved glass displays — the Galaxy Nexus’ screen is concave while the Venue Pro’s is convex — that added a unique look and feel to the handsets. Rumors that Apple (AAPL) may be working to launch an iPhone with a curved glass face have swirled in the past, but a new patent recently uncovered by Patently Apple confirms that the company is at least toying with the idea of adding a curved smartphone to its future iPhone lineup.
The patent describes a manufacturing process that ditches chemicals by combining heat with a molding mechanism that shapes thin glass. The process is simpler and more efficient than current technologies used to curve glass panels, and it is also far safer.
The fact that Apple is actively working on this technology is hardly a guarantee that we’ll see it implemented in the iPhone 9 or some other future model. Even if the company does put its new patent into practice, it might appear in products other than the iPhone.
Curving glass is a great way to make larger displays more accessible to the user, however, and at the rate the market is shifting, the iPhone 5’s bump to 4 inches likely won’t be the last sizing tweak we see from Apple moving forward.