The trend of displays bending over the side began with Samsung and has now spilled over to a wide variety of smartphones today including Vivo, Nokia, OnePlus and others including the latest Huawei Mate 30 as is seen in our cover graphic.
Last week Patently Apple posted a report titled "The Latest trend of Physical Buttons on a Smartphone being replaced with Touch Controls is one that Apple is likely to Adopt." The report presented 2 slides from a Huawei event introducing their new feature as presented below.
(Click on image to Enlarge)
While Apple has patents on this dating back to 2011, today the U.S. Patent Office issued Apple granted patent 10,488,888 titled "Electronic devices with flexible displays having fastened bent edges." Apple's first and most important patent claim describes the invention as "An electronic device, comprising: a housing having a curved side wall; a transparent cover layer having a curved edge that abuts the curved side wall…" "wherein the transparent cover layer comprises glass."
Apple notes in their summary that their invention covers a flexible display may include a flexible light-emitting diode layer with bent edges. The flexible light-emitting diode layer may include a flexible sheet of polymer or other flexible substrate. An array of light-emitting diodes such as organic light-emitting diodes may form a planar active region on the flexible substrate.
Apple adds that in some situations a portion of the bent edges of the flexible display that contain active display pixels to be used for displaying images to a user of the device.
Apple later notes that a cover glass layer may be attached to a housing member such as a housing sidewall member that may substantially wrap around an edge of the device.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 below is a cross-sectional side view of a portion of an illustrative electronic device having a display with bent edges that are fastened to a support structuring using an internal fastening structure.
Apple's patent FIG. 9 above is a perspective view of illustrative assembly equipment that may be used in fastening the bent edges of a flexible display to a support structure.
The patent doesn't limit the application to being related to an iPhone or iPad and makes it clear it could extend to a possible future MacBook Pro (laptop) that would have a thinner bezel or perhaps going as far as no bezel at all. The invention may relate to future wearables, computer monitors and more.
Whether Apple will actually bring this to market to match Huawei's side-touch controls is unknown at this time. Yet if Apple decides to go that route, at least they have more protection for their invention.
Apple's granted patent 10,488,888 was originally filed in Q4 2017 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
A Couple of Apple (Superstar) Inventors
Scott Myers: Senior Manager, iPhone Product Design who is now the Director at SpaceX
Christopher Stringer: 22 years of service to Apple and holds 1,270 patents covering everything from the PowerBook, iMac, MacBook, Apple Watch, Apple Pencil, HomePod and more. He is no longer with Apple.