Rumor: Apple will introduce an iPhone with a curved screen in 2017

Apple will debut three new iPhone models next year, presumably the “iPhone 8” and “iPhone 8 Plus,” as well as a third model that will sport a curved OLED screen similar to the Edge versions of Samsung's Galaxy phones, claims the Japanese site, Nikkei (as noted by AppleInsider).

The “premium” handset will be 5.5 inches, perhaps larger, and have a screen bent on two sides. Nikkei didn't specifically mention OLED technology, but making a curved screen effectively requires it; the Galaxy S7 Edge uses a Super AMOLED panel, notes AppleInsider.

The prediction lines up with a July forecast by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who thinks a 2017 iPhone will have a curved glass body and will switch from current models’ LCD displays to an OLED display. The latter will make it more flexible and consumer less power. 

What’ more, Apple has been granted a patent (number 9.411,451) that hints at a future iPhone with a curved glass design. If/when such a smartphone arrives, it could utilize flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display technology. 

According to the patent, electronic devices may sport 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. 

Edge displays may be separated from 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. 

Edge displays may alternately function as virtual buttons, virtual switches, or informational displays that are supplemental to front side 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.

My take on the rumors: I think Apple will indeed introduced a curved iPhone next year. However, I think there will only be two models: the non-curved iPhone 8 and the curved iPhone 8 Plus. I don’t foresee Apple having three models of the “iPhone 8” in addition to the iPhone 8 SE, which we’ll doubtless see next year.