Following the patent application for an all-glass iMac, Apple has filed another application to the US Patent and Trademark Office for a device with a wraparound touch screen display made entirely from glass.
Patent number 20200057525 is titled “Electronic Device with Glass Enclosure” and it describes an iPhone that has a six-sided glass enclosure that will look like a single piece of glass. Such design and form factor can make touch screens on the backside of the phone possible. However, the front side will still be the main screen that displays most of the information.
According to the patent application, this is how Apple plans to make all glass sides look like a single piece of glass: “Described herein, however, are electronic devices with enclosures that use glass to define multiple sides of the enclosure. For example, an enclosure that takes the general form of a rectangular prism may include a glass front, a glass back, and one or more glass sides. In some cases, substantially the entire enclosure (e.g., all exterior surfaces of the enclosure) is formed of glass, including the front, back, and all sides of the enclosure. In such cases, the enclosure may appear visually and tactilely seamless, such that the entire enclosure may appear to be formed from a single piece of glass (even though it may be formed from multiple separate pieces attached together).”
The physical distinctions between the front, back, and side surfaces of the glass enclosures may indicate functional distinctions of the touchscreens, or display regions, corresponding to those surfaces. For example, while a front-facing touchscreen may present or define a main display region (e.g., for displaying application windows, games, grids of selectable icons), a side-facing touchscreen may display an auxiliary display region (e.g., for displaying affordances that control functions of the electronic device such as speaker volume, ring/silent, screen brightness, or the like). A back surface may display an additional auxiliary display region, which may include different content than the front or side surface(s).
A patent for a new device comes as other large companies like Huawei or Samsung continue to introduce foldable devices. Apple’s latest invention indicates the company’s intention to introduce a completely different design with a new approach.
Still, even if Apple has submitted a new patent application, there’s no guarantee that the described device will ever be released, only time will tell.