Apple is reportedly working on smartphones with curved screens, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
An unnamed source “familiar with the plans” told the newswire that Apple could release a pair of new iPhones next year with large, curved displays (4.7 and 5.5 inches, respectively) and sensors more capable of differentiating between light and heavy pressure.
If this rumor pans out, Apple will have embraced the broader smartphone trend of massive screens. “Screen size is one of the things where Apple has to catch up to the Android camp,” Yuanta Financial Holding Co. analyst Dennis Chan suggested to Bloomberg. “Innovation in components has been a key for Apple since the first iPhone came out.” In addition, ultra-sensitive sensors could open up the iOS platform to a whole new range of enhanced apps, including games.
(Apple has another potential use for curved-glass technology, of course: for several months, rumors have persisted that the company is hard at work on an “iWatch” loaded with iOS. That so-called “smartwatch” may rely on a curved-glass design, the better to maximize screen size without bulky hardware. But it’s anyone’s guess as to when an iWatch will actually arrive on the market; in the meantime, a number of rivals—including Google and Samsung—have either pushed their own smartwatches onto store-shelves or are rumored to have a device in development.)
Apple’s latest smartphones, the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S, sold roughly 9 million units during their first weekend of release. Reports soon emerged, however, that the higher-end iPhone 5S—made out of aluminum, like its predecessors, and loaded with high-end hardware such as a fingerprint scanner—was far outselling the cheaper, plastic-bodied iPhone 5C. Although iPhone 5C was supposed to make Apple more of a player in the midlevel smartphone market, analysts and pundits have expressed dismay over the device’s unsubsidized sticker price of $550, which is pretty dear for “middle-range” hardware.
If reports of the iPhone 5C’s anemic sales are accurate, it suggests Apple could have some problems with deviating from the tried-and-true formula that made it such a smartphone powerhouse; indeed, the “main” iPhone hasn’t changed much in its core design principles from the original device released in 2007. That leaves it an open question whether an iPhone with a larger, curved screen would prove a mega-bestseller—what’s worked for manufacturers such as Samsung (which currently dominates the large-screen smartphone segment, such as it is) might not prove as successful for Apple, particularly when its customers are used to a very specific type of phone.