By Jim Karpen on Thu, 02/13/2014
When Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, it was dramatically different. Smartphones back then were covered with buttons, and typically had a keyboard on the front, like the Blackberry. Apple's iPhone was almost free of buttons, and unlike most phones at the time, used much of the face of the device for the display. There were bezels (or borders) around the edge to give you something to hold on to and avoid inadvertent touches of the display. Then Apple figured out how to recognize and ignore inadvertent touches, and therefore make the bezels narrower. Now the latest rumor, via The Korea Herald, is that Apple is testing a prototype of the iPhone 6 that has no bezel at all. The display would be the entire width of the phone.
If the rumors are true that the iPhone 6 will have a larger display, going without a bezel will mean that the display can be larger, but the phone itself won't be as large as it would have been with a bezel. Of course, the fact that Apple is testing a prototype, if true, doesn't mean that Apple will take this direction. They're known to test a variety of prototypes before settling on the form factor they think will give the best user experience.
The Korea Herald also says that the Touch ID feature will be integrated into the display, meaning that there will also be very little border at the bottom of the phone. The rendering accompanying this post shows what such a phone would look like, with no bezels left and right, and no Touch ID button at the bottom of the phone.
In other rumors, the South China Morning Post on Wednesday claimed that Apple will be coming out with two iPhone 6 models in September, with display sizes of 4.7 and 5.5 inches. Citing industry insiders, they say the new phones will have a sapphire crystal display. I think this is somewhat doubtful, given the higher cost. At the most, I think the sapphire would be used as a laminate. The report also says the phones will have a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch, compared to the current 326. In addition, they say the phones will have a flat display rather than the rumored curved display. And they claim that Apple will make a final decision in April which prototype will go into production.
What to make of all this? I think it's interesting, but I'm not ready to put much stock into any of it, other than Apple will be coming out with two phones with larger displays later this year. But I do like the idea of a phone without a bezel and hope they can make it work.