Mirle Automation, a Taiwanese firm, has developed equipment for making a 3D curved glass chassis, and has entered the supply chain for the 2017 iPhone series, according to a Commercial Times report.
The article says Mirle has obtained orders for the newly-developed equipment from Foxconn Technology and Lens Technology with shipments scheduled to kick off in the fourth quarter of 2016. Foxconn is one of Apple’s manufacturing partners.
Earlier this month the Japanese site, Nikkei (as noted by AppleInsider) claimed that 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.
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.
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.