While smartphones these days are more compelling and powerful than ever before, there’s no denying that smartphone upgrades have become somewhat incremental over the past few years. While this isn’t to say that new smartphone releases aren’t exciting, it does explain why companies like Samsung and Motorola have been trying to position foldable phones as the next big thing.
Apple, meanwhile, has a penchant for patience. In other words, there’s no reason to believe that Apple will jump into the world of foldable phones until there’s evidence that a) consumers want such a form factor and b) the form factor proves to be beneficial. That said, some of the early reviews of the Motorola Razr and the Galaxy Flip Z suggest that foldable phones may be nothing more than a passing fad.
Still, that’s not to say that Apple isn’t tinkering with interesting ideas. To this end, Apple recently filed a patent for an iPhone design consisting of a six-sided glass enclosure. Put differently, imagine an iPhone with a wrap-around glass display that would allow a user to view pertinent information on the sides of the device, along with the bottom and top edges of the device.
As an illustrative example, the drawing below envisions the bottom portion of an iPhone display being used to present users with a rolling stock ticker and the current temperature.
Now is this something we can realistically expect to see come out of Apple sometime soon? Probably not, especially considering that Apple tends to patent every type of outlandish idea its engineers and designers come up with. Still, the patent does show that Apple is open to exploring unique and novel form factors.
Incidentally, one interesting use-case idea put forth by AppleInsider reads:
This could mean replacing the hardware mute switch, sleep/wake button, or volume controls, with touch-sensing areas. Apple might use a force-sensing to allow users to squeeze an iPhone, perhaps thereby telling it to send a call to voicemail.
It’s a fascinating idea, to be sure, but after the unenthusiastic response to the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro, there’s something to be said for old-fashioned physical buttons. In short, Apple’s recently filed patent is intriguing, but we’d be surprised to see Apple release something like this anytime soon, if ever.