A DigiTimes rumor pointed towards the possibility of a future 5.8-inch display in an iPhone, a significant size increase over the existing 5.5-inch display of the iPhone 6s Plus.
Ray Soneira of DisplayMate‘s says that Apple is planning to implement new folded edge side screens technology on a future iPhone or iOS device using a flexible OLED display. Such a display would fully eliminate side bezels on the iPhone and would also perhaps implement special buttons or gestures that could be used to control functions on the iPhone using the sides of the device.
The patent outlines an edge display that’s an extension of the main front display, offering virtual buttons, virtual switches, or informational displays that supplement the main display. It consists of a touch-sensitive layer underneath a flexible display layer and in the patent, virtual side buttons have purposes like adjusting volume, or snapping a photo.
In a second patent, Apple has outlined multiple possible shapes for an iPhone that would have a wraparound display, ranging from squared off to cylindrical, suggesting there are many possible directions Apple could go in should it decide to implement wraparound features like these.
In addition to enabling features like dramatic curves, flexible OLED display panels have other benefits, as outlined by Soneira in a recent display shootout covering the Galaxy S7. OLED displays are thinner, lighter, offer better viewing angles, and have the potential to be used with a much smaller bezel.
According to Ray Soneira, side screens would be an ideal way for Apple to continue to iterate on future iPhones. “If Apple wants to be leading display innovation with a new OLED iPhone the side screens would really be the best way to do so,” he said.
The report suggests that Apple could be intending on producing a device with “folded edge side screens” that would make use of a flexible OLED display, and that there’s a very high possibility of Apple utilizing an additional patent filed in 2011 or in 2013 that could see an iPhone introduced with “sidewall displays”.