Apple Continues to Refine a Possible Future iPhone with a Wraparound Display that Xiaomi is now actively Pursuing
Patently Apple posted a report way back in December 2013 titled "Killer Patent: Apple Reveals Sapphire Flexible Transparent Display Devices Created with Liquid-Metal." The patent provided a grand overview of possible future devices including an iPhone with a wraparound display in various form factors. The patent was updated twice in 2018. In November 2018 Apple updated their invention noting that a dual flexible display system would provide "an illusion of depth perception can be presented mimicking a 3D experience." In December 2018 another update for this invention was published and revealed that the wraparound display would allow face content to be controlled by backside input. Coincidentally, this particular feature made it to the iPhone 12. So that part of the patent has now come to life.
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a continuation patent application from Apple that once again advances their patent regarding a wraparound display form factor. Being a continuation patent, the update is restricted to additions made to its patent claims. The key updates include the following:
Claim #1. An electronic device having front and rear surfaces, comprising: a first planar display portion on the front surface; a second planar display portion on the second surface; a motion sensor that detects an orientation of the electronic device; and control circuitry that determines whether to display content on the first planar display portion or the second planar display portion based on the orientation of the electronic device.
Claim #8. The electronic device defined in claim 1 further comprising a housing having curved sidewalls between the front and rear surfaces.
Claim #9. The electronic device defined in claim 1 wherein the first planar display portion and the second planar display portion are separated by a gap.
Claim #10. The electronic device defined in claim 9 further comprising opaque masking material in the gap.
Claim #11. An electronic device having front and rear surfaces, comprising: a first set of pixels on the front surface; a second set of pixels on the rear surface; a first transparent cover portion over the first set of pixels; a second transparent cover portion over the second set of pixels, wherein the first and second transparent cover portions have planar regions; and control circuitry that gathers orientation sensor data to determine whether to display image content with the first set of pixels or the second set of pixels.
Claim #12: The electronic device defined in claim 11 wherein the image content has a displayed orientation that is based on the orientation sensor data.
Claim #13: The electronic device defined in claim 11 wherein the first and second sets of pixels are separated by a gap.
Claim #14: The defined in claim 13 further comprising opaque masking material in the gap.
Claim #15. The electronic device defined in claim 11 further comprising a housing having curved sidewalls between the front and rear surfaces.
Claim #16. An electronic device having front and rear faces, wherein the front and rear faces have planar portions, the electronic device comprising: a front display region on the front face; a rear display region on the rear race; an orientation sensor that measures an orientation of the electronic device; and control circuitry that selects the front display region or the rear display region for displaying image content based on the orientation of the electronic device.
Claim #17. The electronic device defined in claim 16 further comprising a transparent cover layer overlapping the front display region.
Apple's patent application number 20200348728 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back July 2020. Considering that this is a continuation patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Is Apple's patented smartphone concept a viable idea? Well, one of Apple's leading competitors in China and Europe thinks it is as presented below.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha Phone
While Apple continues to refine their invention of a new iPhone form factor, the new Mi Mix Alpha phone from Xiaomi with its wraparound display is currently a limited edition selling for approximately US$2,800 according a review by Gizmochina. You could also review Xiaomi's marketing material for greater details on this phone here.
Below is Xiaomi promo video of this new smartphone with a wraparound display. Hmm, you have to wonder where they got that idea from? (Ha!) Will the Xiaomi phone motivate Apple to push this project forward a little faster? Only time will tell.