How Soon Will We See a Smartphone with a Wrap-Around Screen?

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Will the next iPhone have a curved screen? If a recent “leak” is to be believed, it’s definitely a possibility. When you team that up with a recent patent application from Apple, that reality may arrive sooner than later. But why is a curved screen such a big deal?

When the Samsung Nexus S came out with its curved screen I was under-impressed. Sure, the curved glass fit your face better than a flat slab, but the screen itself wasn’t curved, just the glass. Later, the Galaxy Nexus followed suit, again with curved glass, not a curved screen. Both phones were somewhat unique in this characteristic, but their curves went the wrong way. When you look at usage, people don’t hold their phones to their face all that much. More often than not you’ll find then holding it in one hand, poking and swiping at it with another.

When Google and LG teamed up on the Nexus 4 they took things in another direction (pardon the pun). The Nexus 4 screen curves along its horizontal axis, not vertically like the previous Nexi. This is a bigger deal that it may sound. The first thing I noticed after unboxing my Nexus 4 was how smooth and “natural” it felt to swipe across the screen. “Turning pages” in eBooks felt so much better than on any previous device. The “curvature” on the Nexus 4 is nothing more than rounded-over edges, but the implications are considerable. Apply that curvature to the entire front of the device and I can only imagine that we’re in for a treat.

The Apple patent apparently covers a device that displays information on a rounded front and back. I don’t think we’re there yet. I think a “wrap-around screen” will come to us first as a truly curved screen, reaching from edge to edge on the top of the device. The back will likely be curved, but constructed of a material like we have today — metal, plastic, kevlar, polymer, etc.

This device would fit comfortably in the hand, but have significantly “abrupt” edges to provide and adequate “gripping surface” for a secure feel. The curved front would invite swipes from side to side and make navigating through pictures, music, pages in eBooks, and flipping through home screens much more natural and welcoming.

Samsung has been working on more than just curved glass, they’ve also been pioneering flexible displays and others have even been able to demonstrate flexible batteries. When taken all together, it shouldn’t be hard to picture how a device with a curved front and curved back would fit together. This would maximize internal space without making the device feel bulky or awkward in the hand.

When will we see such a device? The foundations are already there and we’re starting to see more “gesture-based” schemes on devices regardless of what OS they’re running. The question is no longer “if” but “when” — and that “when” is probably sooner than you think.

Source & Image Credit: Apple via the USPTO

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.