Apple Patents Tech for Curved Display iPhones

applecurvedpatent 675403

Samsung and LG may be the first to launch curved display smartphones, but they certainly might not be the last. The United States Patent and Trademark Office just published a patent from Apple that describes manufacturing methods for curved touch sensors. Specifically, the patent covers the use of these curved sensors in displays and touchpads. The technology should allow for accurate touch-sensitive curved surfaces while preventing substrate warping.

Apple says that its patented technology would surpass the shortcomings of certain manufacturing techniques today. For instance, the patent notes that current touch panels can be difficult to work with because of their thin form factor. When placing thin films over flexible substrates such as plastic, the device runs the risk of enduring structural damaging if it gets too hot. The patent, however, proposes a method would deposit a conductive thin film over the flexible substrate while it is in a flat state. Once the electrodes are in place, the substrates would join to form a curved “forming substrate.”

MORE: Top Smartphone Gifts

applecurvedpatent2 600313

But what’s more interesting than how the technology works are the types of gadgets we may see it in. The patent’s text makes numerous references to touch screen displays and touchpads, and the included images depict devices that include these input methods.  Figures 4A, 4B and 4C show what appear to be an iPhone, an iPod and a MacBook that could utilize such technology.

There’s no telling whether or not we’ll see iPhones with curved displays anytime soon, but the patent does follow rumors suggesting a rounded smartphone is in Apple’s pipeline. In early November Bloomberg reported that Apple is developing a new iPhone design that features a larger display and curved glass. The display prototypes are said to measure 4.7 and 5.5 inches in size.

However, the benefits of curved display smartphones are not immediately clear. Flexible properties make the phone’s display less likely to shatter if it falls out of your pocket, but other advantages have not been discovered just yet.

“The curved products I’ve seen so far don’t seem to have any appreciative benefit other than the fact  that it’s cool,” said Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices at Current Analysis.

It’s also important to note that just because Apple has patented technology doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed to see it in future devices, as Greengart points out. “They probably have watches, glasses, hoverboards and who knows what else just to see what it’s like.”

Lisa Eadicicco
Lisa Eadicicco
Lisa has been reporting on all things mobile for since early 2013. When she’s not reviewing gadgets, she’s usually browsing patent databases or interviewing experts to track down the hottest tech trends before they even happen. Lisa holds a B.A. in Journalism from SUNY Purchase and has contributed to The International Business Times, The New York Daily News and Guitar World Magazine.
Lisa Eadicicco on
Twitter Google+
Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options