Future iPhones, iPads, Macs could have ‘sidewall displays’

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an illustrative electronic device with a flexible display.

Apple has been granted a patent (number 11.237,685) for “electronic devices with sidewall displays” that adds credence to the rumors that the company is working on a “curved” iPhone.

About the patent 

The patent involves devices with flexible displays (and this could also apply to iPads, even Mac laptops) that could be bent to form displays on multiple surfaces of the devices. These mini-screens could offer additional functionality.

In the patent, Apple notes that conventional devices have input-output components such as buttons, microphones, speakers, and other components that receive or transmit tactile input from a user mounted on edges of the device away from the display. Tactile input components are often formed from sliding or reciprocating button members and associated electrical components such as switches. 

Flexible display technologies are available that allow displays to be flexed. Apple wants to use flexible display technology to provide improved electronic devices with wraparound displays or screens with info displayed on sidewalls.

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent if you like the technical details: “Electronic devices may be provided that contain flexible displays that are bent to form displays on multiple surfaces of the devices. Bent flexible displays may be bent to form front side displays and edge displays. Edge displays may be separated from front side displays or from other edge displays using patterned housing members, printed or painted masks, or by selectively activating and inactivating display pixels associated with the flexible display. 

“Edge displays may alternately function as virtual buttons, virtual switches, or informational displays that are supplemental to front side displays. Virtual buttons may include transparent button members, lenses, haptic feedback components, audio feedback components, or other components for providing feedback to a user when virtual buttons are activated.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.