Saturday, April 6, 2013

iPhone 6 design - how far can apple take curved glass ?

Earlier this week i posted a prediction about the next iPhone model that we can expect from Apple in the summer. Although, it will have a killer feature revolving around payments and identity verification through the addition of new NFC hardware and biometric verification, the form factor will remain the same. To be clear, i don't expect the next iPhone release to change form factors from the current iPhone 5 body type (if the form factor changes, that would be a lot more exciting for everyone so i am hoping i am wrong about this ). Instead i expect apple to change up the form factor the release after next (so think Summer of 2014). This is what i am currently calling the iPhone 6.

iPhone 6 will be Apple's hail-marry attempt to prove to the world that Apple can still innovate and revolutionize consumer electronic product categories without Steve Jobs. So how will they wow us ?

The iPhone 6 will break the current mold of industrial design for smartphones (a thin slab), the very mold that Apple established in 2007. The new generation apple industrial design will rely on curved glass screen technology. 

The minimum: "edge to edge" curved glass screen
It would be the long rumoured "edge to edge" screen. Meaning the display would curve around the edges of the device to eliminate the bezel on the side. 

The maximum: dual displays, with single wraparound screen for all 4 surfaces of iPhone
Apple could run with the curved glass idea beyond the "edge to edge" screen idea. They could shoot for the stars, and create a screen on both sides of the device. A complete wraparound screen. Meaning it will be one single piece that goes all the around the front, both sides, and the back of the device. Check out this patent diagram from explaining the vision 

This will be REVOLUTIONARY. Since users will be able to pick up the phone from either side and it will "Just work" without needing to think about which side the device is facing.

Here are some other early leaked hardware shape mocks/ prototypes. Courtesy of

Reasons for apple doing this:
  • 1. Design reason: This will create complete symmetry in the industrial design, we see the beginnings of this philosophy with the lightning power adapter. A user no longer needs to worry about figuring out which side is up and which side is down on the connector, it is symmetrical no matter what the user does.
  • 2. It will reduce the amount of components, and increase economies of scale (if you use the same components for either side of the phone, that is more efficient and simple)
  • 3. This strategy plays to apple's core strength , out of this world hardware manufacturing precision, that everyone imitates but can't achieve the same tolerances on. Put differently, like the Mac Air, the packaging of the iPhone 6 will be so tight and seamless that it will stand out from all other devices on the market.
  • 4. Apple's Screen manufacturing partner, Corning, is pushing their next generation product: Willow Glass . A thin film, flexible screen. Unlike Gorilla glass which was intended to be tougher than a diamond, Willow glass, is instead flexible and light. So instead of withstanding drops, it will ABSORB drops.

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