Future iPhones may be flexible and have addition, slimmer displays on their sides — “sidewall” displays. Apple has filed for a patent (number 20180356913) for such technology, which could also apply to iPads and Mac laptops.
In the patent filing, the tech giant notes that electronic devices such as portable computers and cellular telephones are often provided with rigid displays. However, flexible display technologies are available that allow displays to be flexed.
For example, flexible displays may be formed using flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display technology. Apple says it would be useful to use flexible display technology to provide improved electronic devices such as electronic devices with input-output components.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “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. 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.”
Apple has been granted other patents for this technology, including patents number 10055039, 9,791949, and number 20180052540.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.