What if your smartphone had a display that didn’t just cover the front of the device, but the back and the sides, too? That’s what Apple has imagined in a patent that was filed back in 2011 but was granted to the company on Tuesday. It’s a patent we’ve covered several times as Apple filed for various changes throughout the years, and it specifically describes a device with a “transparent housing and a flexible display assembly enclosed within the transparent housing.” In other words, a device that’s almost completely a display.
So why would we want a smartphone with a display on the sides and back of the device? Well, Apple believes that the unused space and the static buttons are limiting. After all, the power button will mostly always serve as a power button, while the volume controls will almost certainly always be used primarily for controlling audio levels (on Android, you get benefits like controlling the camera, however.) Apple, however, imagines that a display will add some versatility, enabling entire areas that can be used by third party applications. We need only look to a device like the Galaxy S7 Edge to see the kind of power this enables.
Apple probably isn’t planning to launch a smartphone like this anytime soon, however. The latest reports suggest it will begin deploying AMOLED panels in its 2017 iPhone. Perhaps we’ll start to see something crazier a few years from now.