Apple Inc. could be planning a curved screen for the iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 that looks a lot like the Edge screen found on Samsung’s forthcoming Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, according to a patent granted Tuesday to Apple from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The possible iPhone 6S design includes a flexible display that reaches all the way to the sides of Apple’s next smartphone, and includes the ability to change the way it functions based on what the user is doing.
If Apple decides to incorporate the patent into the design of an iPhone 6S or 7, it could replace the volume and mute buttons found on previous models. The curved display’s touchscreen interface could also be used for all kinds of customizable “buttons,” which Apple says it may use to create a virtual game controller, according to Patently Apple.
Apple’s patent includes a front-mounted display with a bend covering the sides of the smartphone. A future iPhone 6S could incorporate virtual buttons that would change based on what the user is doing, like shifting from a standard volume button to a camera shutter button when the user is taking a photo. If Apple does incorporate a curved edge display on its iPhone 6S or 7, the screen could come with a new set of touch gestures.
The Cupertino, California-based manufacturer is known for its secrecy surrounding new devices like the iPhone 6S, but also encourages its engineers to apply for patents on even the most incremental advance in technology or design. Former Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs has won more than 141 patents since his death in 2011.
While Apple’s patent is real, it does not mean the company will implement the technology in the iPhone 6S — but it does open the smartphone up to a number of interesting possibilities.