The iPhone 6 is likely still several months away but rumored specs for the upcoming smartphone are gearing up to make it worth the wait.
Since patents filed by Apple were released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last Thursday, many have suggested that the next iPhone may feature not only a thin and flexible display that is able to wrap around the device, but that this display will be transparent against a seamless glass chassis.
Is This Really an iPhone?
The primary exhibit in Apple’s filing, referred to as “Electronic device with wraparound display” resembles a fourth- or fifth-generation iPod Nano; however most have connected the device to iPhone development due to the icons it features, which include a phone app. Several other designs include a rectangular shaped device, which also resembles a seventh-generation iPod Nano or an iPod Touch, an elongated trapezoid-shaped device and a cylindrical-shaped device. The filing does not indicate whether the Apple device is an iPhone, though it is notable that many generations of the iPhone and iPod Touch also resemble one another.
If the patent designs are any indication, we may be looking at a new design for the iPhone 6. Rumors suggest that the smartphone will receive an interface revamp from Apple’s senior vice President of Industrial Design, Jony Ives, and may also be available in a range of colors as well as feature a wider screen – similar to the development of the iPod Nano. The size of the iPhone is one criticism consumers have about the device. In comparison to rival smartphones such as those from Samsung, the iPhone has a considerably smaller screen. The upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4 features a massive 5-inch display while the current iPhone 5 taps out at just 4 inches. Though, many have considered that with the technology of a wraparound display, in addition with the suggested seamless glass design, devices may not have to be made wider in order to have larger screens. In fact the screen of the iPhone 6 is projected to be up to 10 inches wide, with half of the screen visible from either side of the device.
iPhone 6 Concepts In Living Color
The idea of a transparent screen is nothing new. Even concept theorists have considered the notion for some time. One concept developed by graphic designer Dakota Adney in 2012 superimposes a transparent screen onto an iPhone 5 handset. In the video, the device is undisrupted by a background image, which allows for a wider screen when reading an e-book for example. The transparent screen also allows for a full-screen preview when taking photos.
Apple’s concept takes this idea a step further in that as the display wraps around the entire device, it will likely create a double-sided display in two fashions. One being each side displays a screen independently, which Gotta Be Moble suggests could be indicative of some sort of dual user mechanism such as multiplayer gaming. The other being that an internal display projected behind an external display that would likely mimic a 3D viewing experience.
Other early concepts link the iPhone 6 to Samsung devices, just as Samsung’s Galaxy S4 smartphone was projected to resemble the iPhone 5 in concepts released prior to its unveiling. Another recent rendering features an iPhone 6 with a seamless screen lengthwise as opposed to widthwise as is indicated on the patent filings. Some suggest that the device, still small and thin in usual Apple fashion, resembles the Sony Xperia Z.
Production Already Underway For 2014 Release?
Many suggest that the iPhone 6 will release in September 2013, while others consider that Apple’s innovative display developments may prolong the smartphone’s release until well into 2014. This would break Apple out of its pattern of releasing one flagship device a year, if an iPhone 5S device is released in mid-2013 before the iPhone 6 at the end of the year, as is projected by some. It is noteworthy that history seems to be repeating itself. Such focus on an iPhone 6 is similar to how the iPhone 5 was much discussed in 2011 but it was the iPhone 4S that was ultimately released at that time. There was also talk of a dual release of the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S with the latter as a cheaper alternative, but the iPhone 5 did not make its debut until 2012, and both devices released with similar prices. If Apple’s history is any indication, we will likely see the iPhone 5S released in September 2013 and the iPhone 6 released in September 2014.
Gotta Be Mobile suggests that development of flexible displays is still much too early to be implemented on a phone set to release in the near future. The tech site proposes that the iPhone 6 may feature technology that will pave the way to malleable screens and seamless designs later on. But collaborations with Sharp suggest that the companies are working together to create a device that could soon be ready for release.
Sharp showcased a number of its projects at the Consumer Electronics Show in January including its flexible display, as did Samsung introduce its flexible display called Samsung Youm that is a projected feature of its Galaxy Note 3 “phablet” that will likely be unveiled at the IFA Expo in September with a projected release before the end of the year. Sharp also presented its IGZO display technology that is supposed to make for a more smooth computing experience. Patently Apple recently reported that Sharp began production for new, ultra-sensitive displays on March 15. This display, shown on a rather large tablet-like screen, is said to be scratch resistant and should allow users to operate devices using winter gloves without special touch pad tips. It should also allow for writing with an ordinary pen or pencil as opposed to a stylist.
It remains unknown for what device these displays will be used, though Patently Apple notes that Sharp is a major display supplier for Apple’s iPad, not its iPhone. With the iPhone 6 still likely two-generations away, rumors and news about the device remain vague. Preliminary rumors suggest that the iPhone 6 will feature a buttonless chassis, which some suggest has been confirmed by Apple’s patent design. The device may also feature a yet-to-be released quad-core Apple A7 processor, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage capacities and a 13-megapixel camera.
Whether it is 2013 or 2014, Apples still has plenty of time to make the iPhone 6 as innovative and tantalizing as possible. As it’s already April, the next iPhone will be here before you know it.
Fionna Agomuoh is a Technology Reporter for the International Business Times, a vegan foodie, and a lover of Electric Dance Music.