A newly published Apple patent application describes a future smartphone with a transparent body and a flexible wrap-around display.
The new iPhone of the future may come with a clear glass body and a display that wraps all the way around.
With its application for an “Electronic device with wrap around display,” Apple looks to create a portable with the most screen real estate possible by using a foldable AMOLED display that is “unrolled” into a transparent structure.
The display itself would unwind, or unroll, around the device to reveal a wider array of items. As a result, more space would be available to display icons, photos, videos, and other content.
“The majority of portable electronic device manufacturers utilize a common form factor consisting generally of a flat planar form factor with a single surface dedicated mainly for use as a display surface, while the other surfaces remain largely unused, save for the occasional button or switch,” the patent filing explains.
“Although this form factor lends itself to electronic devices that are aesthetically pleasing and easy to handle… the size of the user interface is generally limited to a portion of the device that takes up less than half of the overall device surface area.”
The invention states glass or other suitable transparent material can be used to provide a stable structure for the device housing, not only allowing for maximum access to the screen, but also for high aesthetic value.
A glass tube is called for in one iteration, with the patent filing making special note of the radio transparency of glass, which is key to internal wireless communications equipment. Alternatively, metal columns or other structures can be disposed throughout the chassis to provide extra support, says Apple Insider.
Users would interact with the device using touch gestures rather than physical buttons. For example, swiping along one of the sides could lock and unlock the device as an alternative to using the current hold button.
That innovation would’ve pleased the late Steve Jobs, who always envisioned an iPhone without any physical buttons.
“By holding a finger over the volume indicator an action could be triggered expanding the volume control over the entire left side of the device,” Apple’s patent filing explains.
“This would allow a user to make fine adjustments to the volume of portable electronic device.”
“Instead of the hold button a multi touch gesture along one of the sides could instead act as a method of locking and unlocking the hold function.”
Finally, the device can include multiple transparent displays that are overlaid on top of one another, cooperatively presenting content.
For example, one display can show the same content as a second display, but slightly out of sync to give the illusion of 3D imagery. In another example, the second display can simply present a different set of visuals than the first.
As the Telegraph writes, the design would rely on flexible display technology, which has advanced rapidly in recent years. Samsung, Apple’s main rival, demonstrated a flexible smartphone at this year’s CES gadget showcase in Las Vegas, and is reportedly going into mass production in the first half of this year.
Apple’s diagram of the proposed wraparound iPhone. Photo: USPTO.