Future iPhones may not be the only Apple device with more flexible displays. Apple has been granted a patent (number 9660,004) for “flexible displays with a strengthened pad area” that may apply to Mac laptops.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that it can be challenging to form displays for electronic devices. Displays have active areas formed from arrays of display pixels. Inactive border regions surround the active regions. The inactive border region in a display contains support circuitry such as signal lines and thin-film transistor circuitry but does not contain active pixels for producing images for a user.
Apple says that, in order to reduce the apparent size of the inactive border region, it may be desirable to use a flexible substrate in forming the display. This allows portions of the inactive border region to be bent out of sight, reducing the size of the visible inactive display border and enhancing the appearance of the display.
However, making more flexible screens is a patent. Apple is looking into ways to make “improved displays that are more robust in the bonding region.”
Here’s the summary of the patent: “An electronic device may have a flexible display with portions that can be bent. The display may include an array of display pixels in an active area. Contact pads may be formed in an inactive area of the display.
“Display circuitry in the active area may exhibit a given stack height, whereas display circuitry in the inactive area may exhibit a stack height that is less than the given stack height. In particular, the contact pads may be formed directly on a multi-buffer layer that sits directly on a flexible display substrate. Passivation material may be selectively formed only at the edges of the contact pad on the multi-buffer layer. The multi-buffer layer may be formed at a distance from the edge of the flexible display substrate to minimize cracking in the multi-buffer layer.”
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.