Apple has filed for two new patents that hint at iPhones with wraparound displays. Patent number 10,345,860 is for, well, an “electronic device with wraparound display.” It involves a transparent housing and a flexible display assembly enclosed within the transparent housing.
Patent number 10,348,875 is for “electronic devices with convex displays.” It involves a convex display that can be formed from one or more flexible layers. The patent likely involves flexible OLEDs.
In the patent filings, Apple says that improvements portable device’s functionality can perhaps be realized by investigating ways to maximize the utility of unused portions of these devices.
The current form factor of smartphones leaves the sides and rear surfaces of the device unused or at best configured with buttons and switches with fixed location and functionality. Since many of these buttons and switches have fixed functionality they can’t always be incorporated into third party applications. Apple says there’s “a need for an improved form factor for portable electronic devices which allows functionality to extend to more than one surface of the device.”
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.