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This could be the radical iPhone redesign we’ve been waiting for

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 9:19PM EST
iPhone AMOLED Wraparound Display
Image: Screenshot / YouTube

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The iPhone 7 will be boring, according to many people who’re simply interested in brand new designs year after year, or at least every two years in Apple’s case. While we may have reached a plateau when it comes to designs of rectangular devices that hide impressive tiny computers behind gorgeous touchscreen displays, Apple might be working on a radical iPhone redesign for next year. Many reports suggested that at least a version of the 2017 iPhone will feature a curved OLED display and a fingerprint sensor embedded in the screen that will effectively kill the home button. A new finding suggests that Apple is indeed working on such technology, although it doesn’t indicate whether it would actually make it to market.

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Discovered by Apple Insider, patent No. 9,367,095 is titled Electronic device with wrap around display. The patent was awarded to Apple, after having been filed in April 2015.

The patent features drawings that clearly show what looks like an iPhone with a wraparound display. Apple patents often describe technology that might never make it into consumer products, and the graphics are used only to prove certain concepts. But this is technology that Apple R&D has been toying with, so this particular device might see the light of day.

The patent describes a mobile device that would feature a wrap-around curved display covered by protective glass, clearly identifying the display type as AMOLED. The device would be able to determine how the user is holding the handset before choosing which side of the screen would show content.

AMOLED screens aren’t only flexible, but their pixels light up independently, offering Apple ways of conserving energy while only activating certain pixels for certain tasks.

The device lacks a home button, and the volume rockers are apparently embedded in the display – or better said, 3D Touch or other gestures could be used to adjust the volume on such a device. Even unlocking the handset could be done using gestures. “Instead of the hold button a multitouch gesture along one of the sides could instead act as a method of locking and unlocking the hold function,” Apple writes.

Cameras would be placed on either side of the device, and would be used both to determine whether the user is looking at the screen, and for photo-taking and video-recording purposes.

The obvious advantage of such a display is that it would eliminate the need of bezels, significantly increasing screen real estate without increasing phone size. The image above seems to suggest there’s more screen to take advantage of by including five apps in the dock rather than four.

The patent also describes technologies that could be employed to generate a 3D effect by using multiple layers of transparent screens.

The full patent is available at the source link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.