Although anticipation is high for the release of the iPhone 7, we already know Apple is making big plans for future phones, with rumours of a design overhaul for the iPhone 8 in the works. But the company was today granted permission for a new patent which hints at a particularly interesting new design feature, which might reveal more about Apple's iPhone 8, or perhaps post-iPhone 8, plans.
The patent (via Patently Apple) is for a curved glass display with virtual buttons which looks remarkably similar to the screens on Samsung's Edge phones. It follows a patent application from Apple, granted in July, for an OLED display with 'bent edge', and another previously granted application for a 360-degree wraparound display. Both these developments fuelled rumours that the iPhone 8 could come with a curved screen.
But this is the first we've heard of Apple working on a Galaxy Edge-style display. The patent itself lists features on Apple's version of the technology that are more than slightly reminiscent of the Galaxy S7 Edge and Galaxy Note 7's curved edge offerings. The application lists "virtual buttons, virtual switches, or informational displays that are supplemental to front side displays" among the elements involved.
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The application also explains: "Electronic devices may be provided that contain flexible displays that are bent to form displays on multiple surfaces of the devices. Bent flexible displays may be bent to form front side displays and edge displays.
"...Virtual buttons may include transparent button members, lenses, haptic feedback components, audio feedback components, or other components for providing feedback to a user when virtual buttons are activated."
Luckily, Apple began submitting patent applications for the technology long before Samsung's first curved-edge phone hit the market, with the first application being submitted in 2013. That should mean any potential lawsuits between the two tech giants are avoided.
Interestingly, the newly granted patent also details how there could be an artificial break between the edges of the display and the main screen, which would differentiate the design from Samsung's now instantly recognisable curved screens.
Whatever Apple's up to, the series of patent applications for display tech, which is seemingly being refined by the company with each month that passes, certainly suggests we'll be seeing some sort of display changes on future iPhones – though, it should be noted that Apple has yet to confirm any of this, and is unlikely to do so until it comes time to officially unveil the iPhone 8.
It should also be said that patent applications, whether granted or not, are no guarantee that a technology will make it to market. As such, it could be that we never see Apple's take on curved-edge screens – though we're really hoping we do.
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Do you think we'll see a curved edge iPhone 8? Let us know in the comments.