While the patent talks about a "flexible display assembly", it's important to note that this isn't a patent for a bendable screen: the flexible portion of the display is attached to the interior surface of the curved transparent housing, which "provides a rigid support structure that prevents deformation".
iPhone 7 design rumours: The flexible iPhone
If we can return to the subject of patents, here's one that's pretty leftfield. We don't expect this to appear in the next generation of iPhone, but it's an intriguing insight into the design directions Apple is considering - or choosing to pretend it's considering.
Apple was recently awarded a patent for 'Flexible electronic devices', covering both flexible device bodies on the exterior and flexible components inside.
"A flexible electronic device may include a flexible display, a flexible housing and one or more flexible internal components configured to allow the flexible electronic device to be deformed," the patent explains.
That really would be a bold riposte to Bendgate: transforming it from a bug to a feature, in effect (even though, as we've repeatedly pointed out, the iPhone 6 Plus is hardly unusual in its susceptibility to strenuous bending). The iPhone would bend, the screen would bend, the battery inside would bend, everything would be fine.
It's still hard to see exactly what this would gain us, though, as opposed to the converse rumour (discussed further down this section) holding that Apple will beef up the iPhone 7's durability by using the 7000 Series aluminium alloy from the Apple Watch Sport.
iPhone 7 design rumours: Samsung to make iPhone 7's flexible display
According to the latest reports, Samsung Display is set to make flexible OLED displays for the iPhone 7. The rumour stems from claims that Samsung is reaching out to display tech companies in South Korea that they're hoping will lend a hand with building the displays, as the order from Apple will be huge.
Samsung may even be intending to invest billions in an new factory in which it'll manufature the displays.
At present, iPhones use LCD displays, but the Apple Watch uses a flexible OLED so it's certainly possible that Apple intends to bring the tech to the iPhone. We're not talking flexible in the same way as the patent above, though. It'll simply mean that the screen could curve around the design of the iPhone 7 more accurately, hinting further at an edge-to-edge display. It'll also likely be used to improve 3D Touch.
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