Apple granted US Patent for transparent glass iPhone with wraparound display, virtual buttons

“The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 36 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

“In this particular report we cover a possible future iPhone with wraparound display that will use virtual buttons, replacing today’s physical buttons for volume controls,” Purcher reports. “The new design may use optically transparent glass to form the new iPhone design.”

“Apple’s patent FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of portable electronic device in operation. Notice how the wrap around display substantially increases the available display area that can be used for display of icons, data, images, video and such,” Purcher reports. “For example, as shown in FIG. 4, up to five application icons can be presented that span the width of display 401.”

Apple patents iPhone with wraparound display
Apple patents iPhone with wraparound display

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple’s new iPhone? Wraparound display, no buttons – March 29, 2013
Apple patent application reveals iPhone with curved, wraparound display – March 28, 2013
Apple patent application reveals sapphire flexible transparent display devices created with Liquidmetal – December 19, 2013


  1. Even easier to hold, and still fits in your pocket with double the real estate…take that Samsung!
    Advanced scrollable, assignable iOS…take that, Google!
    If virtual buttons, will be somewhat waterproof.
    If coated with sapphire, will be scratch proof.

    1. I’ll point out that only an ‘always on’ device has only virtual buttons. Therefore, expect at least one physical button on any device you’d ever want to reboot, such as anything computer.

      It is possible to have a separate embedded OS for specifically one eternal virtual button. That’s an interesting concept that no one has yet used, to my knowledge. It could happen. Meanwhile: Suffer the drudgery, ugliness and imperfection of at least one physical button on every iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch.

        1. It would depend upon:

          A) There being a trigger, such as an always on infrared sensor.
          B) The resolution of the camera used to watch what’s moving around in front of it.
          C) The frame rate of the camera.
          D) The ability of the software analyzing the resulting motion images to pick out a finger and fingerprint.

          That’s kind of complex compared to just touching a spot on the phone. That spot doesn’t have to be Apple’s home button, no physical button is required for that function.

          1. Actually I was kind of dreaming. But it will probably happen someday. They are always working on something in Cupertino. And then Samsung will copy it. And Microsoft will lose $1 billion with it.

  2. A part of me doesn’t want to see physical buttons go entirely. It’s nice to be able to just reach into my pocket and flick my phone to silent. It’s a similar thing with carplay (or indeed any touchscreen solution) my car has a touchscreen (crap interface) but it’s a pain to use when driving. It makes sense in certain areas like the keyboard, because when you aren’t using it you want to make use of the real estate. With buttons I can reach to where I know they are, then feel for them and know how I’m adjusting, what position they’re in without looking. My TV remote is essentially used to change channel and occasionally adjust the volume. I can do this in the dark without looking. With my iPhone I have to turn it on, go to the appropriate app, and look at it to touch in the right place. There is certain functionality which you’re going to always want and we live in a physical world, I sometimes think we forget that.

    1. It also strikes me that you’d either end up changing the volume inadvertently just by taking it out of your pocket and holding it in general, or you’d have to turn it on (an extra action) before using these buttons.

    2. Totally agree. My car’s climate control is below the radio, and the controls are a row of flush, identical buttons, which, in order to operate them, you have take your eyes completely off the road! Madness, and the OEM Blaupunkt radio was the same. I now have a Kenwood DAB radio, with a large rotating volume control, and a row of easily distinguished switches below the display for station or pause/play, etc. I can use that easily by touch, but a flat touchscreen? No way is that safe in a car.
      The same with the iPod Classic, on which all the functions can be operated by touch in a pocket, but apart from volume, I have to take my iPhone out of my pocket to use most functions.
      And before someone mentions using a headphone remote, I have a number of pairs of IEM ‘phones with custom cables that don’t have remotes.

    3. I would want there to be a foolproof way to reset the phone if it were to lock up. The present way of performing it by using two physical buttons works very well and an alternative would need to be just as good.

      I’m less concerned about accidentally operating touch buttons for things like volume control. The physical mute key on my iPhones is always being inadvertently operated when it’s in my pocket. A virtual button would be disabled if the phone were locked, which could be an advantage over a physical button which operates at all times.

    4. I take your point but surely this is swings and roundabouts for a touch solution can light up in the dark making what you doing and far more options easily seen and available rather than a few basic functions and as options and possibilities expand that sort of control will be far superior, so you lose a little to gain a lot. However I don’t think it stops there I see no reason that if your basic need was required there must be design solutions to give you similar simplicity on a touch device as needed while offering all those other functions too as and when required. For example a light sensor could automatically offer a simple touch interface that allows a few pre set controls on different parts of the device that feel will indicate to you where they lie. And/or implied texture on the screen which already exist in various prototype can do the same job as a physical touch. So not far down the line solutions do exist for your basic needs without compromising the device.

    5. Perhaps you should read the patent, why waste time searching for a button when the entire side of the device is a volume control? You’ve learned to operate your TV remote for basic functions in the dark. With this, you will learn the movements needed to adjust volume or silence the device without the need to look at it.

      Apple is going to further make the physical button obsolete with greater integration of the touch interface by extending the interface to the rest of the device.

      It will appear to be so obvious, that everyone will say “oh yeah, that’s how your supposed to do it”. Just as they did when they introduced the touch interface with the new iPhone.


      1. PS,
        This also means there will be no front or back of the phone anymore. Whichever way is facing you, will become the front/face of the phone and the “back” will go dark.

        How cool is that

      2. That’s all well and good for volume if it’s a case of an easy gesture, but the more functions you have the more gestures you have to remember. My broader point is that we live in a tactile world, why throw that ability out the window? Particularly in cars. Changing the volume with a knob or button is easy to do. If we start integrating heater functionality, and all the other bits and pieces you’re going to have to concentrate on the screen, or on what gesture you’re trying to do. In my car, if I want to vary the temp, I adjust the dial a little bit either way without even looking. If I have to swipe in a certain direction I don’t know how much I’m doing it without looking. I’m not against touchscreens and gestures, I just don’t see the advantage of making it all virtual, when we have a fine tuned ability to feel things with our fingers.

        1. If you’re talking about being in your vehicle, just ask Siri to do it. Then you won’t have to fiddle around searching for buttons or leaning over the dash.

  3. I want my stocks, messages, etc. to ticker stream left to right(top to bottom) on the curved sides and not get in the way of other stuff. Charge, power, and volume on top and bottom, but virtual everywhere else, including virtual Home button.

  4. Any new radical form factor design is gonna create a new set of accidentals or problems, but I believe Apple is the best at getting us around new issues because they have always redefined their products along with our way of thinking.
    That is what Goof, Sammy, and M$oftie all hate that they have never been able to pull off. Instead of any innovation, they have to wait and make a plastic copy of what Apple creates, not to mention total 32-bit OS dependence. When Apple goes all Sapphire(GTAT) and Cook uses a key at the keynote to try to scratch his iPhone, The rest of the trailing pack will go scrambling. Aluminum/Sapphire vs Gorilla Plastic.

    1. Had the same reaction to the illustration. Apples’ move from the dock connecter to the lightning connector is one of the greatest usability improvements recently. Some days I consider selling my perfectly good, slightly older iPad. Do I think about the 64bit processor or a better display or lighter device? Maybe a little. Do I think about freedom from the dock connector? A lot.

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