We’ve been hearing about Apple’s all-glass iPhone plans for a while now. A new patent indicates that the company could be serious about an all-glass display. Interestingly, the patent application describes a curved glass iPhone with ‘active sidewall virtual buttons’.
The patent reads that the flexible displays may be bent in a way that would turn it into front side displays and edge displays. “Edge displays may be separated from the 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 description reads.
These edge displays may work as virtual buttons or switches, that would supplement the front side displays. “Virtual buttons may include transparent button members, lenses, haptic feedback components for providing feedback to a user when virtual buttons are activated,” it further reads. The patent shows some reference drawings too. The virtual buttons could be shortcuts to several functions like messaging, the camera app, calendar and so on.
It looks like Apple could finally make Samsung’s ‘edge’ display mainstream. Samsung introduced edge display with its Galaxy S6 series, and we also saw the feature in the latest Note 7. It is also believed that Samsung will launch the Galaxy S8 only in the Edge variant. However, Samsung hasn’t been able to put the edges to optimum use. In our S6 edge review, we found that one could easily do without the edges and that they didn’t really bring anything functional to the table, other than novelty and design of course. However, with Apple going for an edge display, once could conceivably see more use from an edge display than Samsung’s implementation.
A previous report by KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo had claimed that the iPhone (iPhone 8) will be seeing a major redesign in 2017, dropping the iconic aluminium casing for an all-glass enclosure with an AMOLED screen. However. the upcoming iPhone 7 is not expected to feature any major overhaul on the design front. Meanwhile, going by the rumours, the upcoming iPhone 7, or maybe the iPhone 6SE, is believed to feature a Force Touch home button, 3GB RAM and a dual camera setup, among other specs.