Apple Granted Patent for Flexible iPhone Displays

The patent, which Apple applied for in 2013, covers technology for flexible and curved displays for the company's products, including iPhones.

Apple, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, flexible display, patents, mobile phones, curved screens, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

Apple has been awarded a patent for a new flexible display technology that could bring wrap-around displays on Apple products of the future, including iPhones.

The patent award was reported by PatentlyApple in a Sept. 29 report, based on patent applications filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent covers "a transparent housing and a flexible display assembly enclosed within the transparent housing," according to the report. As it is designed, "the flexible display assembly is configured to present visual content at any portion of the transparent housing," which would allow substantial changes in the design of device screens seen today.

Such a "wrap-around display substantially increases the available display area that can be used for display of icons, data, images, video and such," the article said. "Apple notes that utilizing a flexible display can provide additional viewing area without increasing either the size or shape of the electronic device. For example, a flexible display can be folded in such a way as to form a continuous loop such that images (still or video) can be presented in a wrap-around manner in which the images appear to be presented in a continuous loop."

The new technology could mean that Apple could in the future bring side-mounted displays to its mobile devices, as seen on Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge+ smartphones, according to a March eWEEK report about the Apple patent applications when the patent office was still reviewing them.

Apple's patent application perhaps takes the idea a bit further with the concept that the edges might also include virtual buttons, the article said.

Apple's latest iPhones, the iPhone 6s and the 6s Plus, went on sale on Sept. 25. The iPhone 6s includes a 4.7-inch display, while the 6s Plus has a 5.5-inch display, both of which are wrapped in a new stronger cover glass. Both new phones are built around Apple's fastest smartphone chip, the A9, which is a third-generation 64-bit chip.

The cameras on the latest devices received a major upgrade with the addition of an all-new 12MP iSight camera that has 50 percent more pixels than earlier devices. Both phones also are now capable of 4K video, run on iOS 9 and include new 5MP FaceTime HD front cameras.

Other iPhone 6s updates include a new feature called 3D Touch that adds new input capabilities for users to help them get the most out of the devices. 3D Touch is the latest generation of Apple's established multi-touch input system. It not only recognizes familiar gestures, but also the amount of force being provided by a user on the screen.

Prices for the iPhone 6s will start at $199 on a two-year contract for a 16GB model and rise to $399 for a 128GB version. Prices for the iPhone 6s Plus will start at $299 for a 16GB model and reach $499 for a 128GB version.

Apple has also unveiled a new iPhone Upgrade Program that will allow customers to pay a monthly rate for their devices, starting at $32 per month for 24 months, and allow them to get a new model each year.