Apple’s iPhone has proven to be an extremely popular device over the last ten years, with Apple using the tenth anniversary of the official announcement to once again state that more than one billion units have been shipped globally.
The hardware may be extremely popular, but has shown signs of dwindling sales in recent months, with the Cupertino-based company expected to combat that this year with a radical redesign, which could potentially include a bezel-less shell with a full frontal OLED display. A recently discovered patent could provide Apple with the necessary technology to achieve that goal, referencing a display that “may occupy the entire front face.”
Apple files, and is awarded, more patents than any of us will ever find out about, or actually want to know about for that matter, but some of them actually seem important and relevant to rumored plans and future direction of the business.
In this instance, the patent describes a collection of OLEDs mounted onto a flexible surface – which is basically an elaborate way of describing a display or screen – arranged in a manner to allow the surface to have apertures or gaps in place. The purposes of those “gaps” isn’t set in stone, but could act as a window for additional objects, such as a camera lens under the display, or even allow sound to be output through a speaker, for instance.
The interesting thing about this particular patent filing and awarding is that it actually describes a solution to some problems that Apple, and other companies for that matter, would instantly face when attempting to design and build a bezel-free device.
With Apple’s current devices, and all other iPhones that have come before the current iPhone 7 flagship, Apple has used the surrounding bezel to embed things like speakers, the Touch ID/Home button, and other important aspects of the proposition.
If you remove the bezel entirely, then you’re left with a full display and a challenge to overcome. This solution would potentially overcome those problems by allowing those things to be hidden underneath the glass. Like with all earlier patent applications, there is definitely no guarantee that this one will ever see the light of day by being transposed into an actual production device, but it definitely seems to fit in with where we envisage Apple going with future iterations of the iPhone.
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