Apple may be joining the ranks of the Samsung Nexus S, the Dell Venue Pro, and the Nokia Lumia smarthones with its next iPhone as the smartphone-maker appears to be experimenting with glass displays. In a recent patent filing uncovered by Patently Apple, it appears that Apple may be working on its own innovation to potentially deliver a smartphone with a curved glass display in the future.
The patent that Apple is applying for is for a process that would allow Apple to mold and bend thin glass panels into curved surfaces without requiring the use of harmful chemicals. According to the iPhone-maker, potential applications for curved glass could include computer mouse, iPod, Cinema Displays, and TVs.
Though filing for and being granted a patent for curved glass does not necessarily mean that Apple would release a consumer product with curved glass, it does open the doors for Apple to deviate from its traditionally flat iPhone offering.
With smartphones and tablets maximizing the front surface areas for screen real estate and minimizing the bezel area, a curved display could add to usability of a phone by giving consumers extra space to flick and swipe between screens. The curved glass on the Lumia 920 and Lumia 800 smartphones not only allowed Nokia to create beautifully crafted smartphones, but also help improve the usability of those devices as well.
It’s unclear if Apple will ever commercialize a curved glass display. There are already a number of phones with curved or slightly curved displays on the market, including the Droid DNA, the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, and Lumia 920. Some of these phones have displays that have an outward curve while phones such as the Galaxy S and Galaxy Nexus have displays that curve inward.
In addition to curved glass display, Samsung Display is rumored to be bringing some prototype flexible displays to CES in January. Those flexible panels may begin to appear in some consumer devices starting in 2013.