By Jim Karpen on Mon, 11/11/2013
On Sunday Bloomberg gave a big boost to the incipient rumor cycle surrounding the next iPhone, reporting that Apple is developing two new iPhone models slated for next fall that will have curved displays of 4.7 and 5.5 inches. Bloomberg's source? "A person familiar with the plans." As always, there's no way of knowing how accurate this information is. And often Apple itself doesn't decide on a particular model until later in the process, after testing a variety of prototypes. But it does seem credible that Apple will develop a larger iPhone, since the mobile industry is definitely tending toward offering a variety of sizes. Given that Apple is offering different-sized iPads, it's reasonable they'd take this step with the iPhone.
The report also says the displays would have glass that curves downward at the edges. Apple is known to be exploring curved glass technologies, including the possibility of a curved display on the rumored iWatch. But it's hard for me to imagine what the source means when he says the phone is curved downward at the edges. Some reports are saying Apple's curved phone would compete with the Samsung Galaxy Round, a picture of which accompanies this post. It came out last month in South Korea, but isn't available in the US (except unofficially). As you can see, the right and left edges of the phone slightly curve toward you.
An article on Forbes speculates that the iPhone would more likely curve toward you on the top and bottom, like the LG F Flex, which is pictured below. It was announced last month and will be available in South Korea November 12 and in Europe in December.
So is this a gimmick? The Forbes article says no. Curving from top to bottom helps the phone fit the shape of your face when you're talking on it. And it says that the curved shape is better for watching videos because there will be less reflection on the edges when your phone is in landscape mode. Also, it says that you can fit a larger screen in a shorter width. Some also say that a curved screen is better in bright sunlight and affords more privacy.
The Forbes article also says that the type of technology used in these displays makes them almost unbreakable.
Apple is famous for developing a lot of different prototypes in order to help decide what people will love the most. So it could simply be that Apple is testing curved prototypes just to see if it's a direction they want to take. While you get the sense that Samsung and LG aren't really sure what advantage curved phones have, you can bet that if Apple comes out with curved phones, the design will be well thought out and will have a clear purpose.
Bloomberg's source also said that Apple is working on a touch sensor that would detect the amount of pressure of a touch, but that this technology is still in development and isn't slated for 2014.