Apple is well known for filing lots of patents, most of which never see the light of day in actual products, but if T3 magazine is to be believed their wrap-around phone concept may be coming in the form of the iPhone 6.
In late March Apple patent investigators Patently Apple uncovered a patent for a iPhone where the screen wraps around the phone. The patent image looked interesting, given the phone a pebble type shape, but most of us forgot it as Apple puts out interesting patents all the time.
But T3 magazine was intriged by what they saw and have produced a mock up of what a iPhone 6 may well end up looking like. It differs significantly from the patent Apple issued in being more like the current shape of an iPhone with a flat screen that curves only when it meets the edge of the phone.
Like the patent functions such as volume are located on the screen at the edge of the phone. Their 3D rendering of what the device could look like brings to life a concept that Apple published as a simple black and white drawing.
The concept video T3 published also show why a wrap around never-ending screen like this could be useful. They show a game where the control are on the back and the gameplay view on the front, as well as a movie being watched where changing the volume doesn’t bring up a grey box over the movie but instead is adjusted at the bottom curve of the phone.
There’s a lot of research and development going on into curved glass from both smartphone manufacturers and glass technology companies such as Gorilla Glass, and while we’ve seen concepts from some of them it seems like we’re still a little while away from the ability to produce such glass at scale and price to see them in smartphones.
It’s more likely that such curved glass screen products will first see the light of day in smaller products such as smart watches where the curves are more necessary to get the device not to either flop round the wrist or being too bulky. The smaller glass panel required for smart watches will likely be significantly cheaper to produce than the larger screens required for smartphones, especially as the general size of smartphones is increasing in part due to the phablet trend.
While we love the concept T3 produced and we believe that we will eventually see this technology, their prediction of a iPhone 6 launch for it seems a little early to us. We’re only a few months away from the iPhone 5S, and we doubt that this technology could be prepared for launch in just over a year.
While Sharp and Apple are working together on a display for iPhone 6 and Sharp has already demonstrated flexible displays at CES 2013, this early prototype is unlikely to be ready for full screen production especially in a device that needs to be strong enough to be placed in a pocket and survive the frequent drops smartphones sustain. iPhone 7 launch for this type of screen seems a more likely date to us.