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Apple pursuing idea of an all-screen iPhone with a wrap around display

Detail from the patent showing one form of wraparound iPhone display

A future iPhone could feature a curved surface that wraps around to give a screen on both sides.

Apple files countless patent applications every year, and it is granted something like countless minus one. Just because there's a patent, just because it's been granted, it does not follow that Apple will make whatever the idea is — except sometimes, surely, it must be very keen.

Perhaps especially now when Apple has been granted a patent — that it has already been granted. This happens when the company puts through an amended version after the original is granted, and very often it's close to impossible to spot what has changed.

Yet even the smallest reason behind a resubmission is a sign that Apple is serious about a research topic. "Electronic device with wrap around display," is a once-again granted patent. What's more, this one also comes after a series of others as Apple has repeatedly filed for patents on slightly different versions of this "wraparound" display idea.

The newly-granted one was originally applied for in 2019. But a previous wraparound idea was filed as long ago as 2013. And 2020 saw at least two more.

So if this is just some Apple employee's lunchtime hobby, they haven't half stuck with it. This version includes an element of flexibility, too, which means it may touch on issues that something like an iPhone fold would need.

The patent refers to a flexible display within a transparent housing. That display could then be able to present images on any part of the screen.

It's that business of presenting on any part of the device that Apple seems the most keen on. Apple says that it's a way of making the most of otherwise unused portions of a device, especially since space is at such a premium in a small device.

The patent also describes methods of manufacturing the wraparound display
The patent also describes methods of manufacturing the wraparound display

Specifically, the regular form of an iPhone, or an iPad, "leaves the sides and rear surfaces of the device [comparatively] unused," says Apple. So a wraparound display would better use the available surface area.

The patent is chiefly about the theoretical process of manufacturing such a display, but what it describes is less an all-round, flexible one. What it could have is a screen that moves with a device, being positioned at different parts of the chassis as wanted.