iPhone edge to edge ConceptsiPhone 001

A new patent No. 9,543,364 for “Electronic devices having displays with openings” has been awarded to Apple this morning by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). First filed for in February 2015, this newly granted patent reveals more ways iPhone 8 will outclass Android rivals.

The invention would basically put some common components typically found on the front face of the phone behind the display assembly.

What components are we talking about?

Well, stuff like the earpiece, forward-facing cameras, Touch ID and various sensors. Integrating such parts behind the display assembly would help design a truly edge-to-edge device. Apple is thought to be working on such designs for its upcoming OLED-based iPhone 8 refresh.

As mentioned, some of the components including the front-facing camera, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, microphone and more could be hidden below the cover glass or in an inactive portion of the display.

Apple patent fullscreen iPhone display holes drawing 001
The holes may have different shapes and positions relative to the actual pixels.

A series of holes formed between the individual pixels would allow the underlying sensors to gather image (camera) and light data (ambient/proximity sensor), radio waves (Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/NFC antenna) and acoustic signals (microphone and ear speakers).

These microscopic pores would need to be unobtrusive and near-invisible to the human eye as to not degrade the clarity and sharpness of the screen. No matter how you look at it, Apple’s solution would definitely require an OLED-based display because the traditional LCD technology requires uninterrupted backlighting layer underneath the screen, where Apple’s patent envisions hiding the sensors and other components.

Apple patent fullscreen iPhone sensors drawing 001
Sub-screen speakers, cameras, sensors and more.

One or more openings in the display may also form a window through which a user of the device may view an external object. Display pixels in the window region may be used in forming a heads-up display or window of sorts.

This heads-up display system may be formed from a glass panel on the rear of the device and the main transparent OLED display. This sounds a lot like the augmented reality feature the next iPhone is rumored to provide.

The heads-up system might leverage the rear-facing camera to capture scene imagery, then the system would project computer images containing useful information about surrounding objects onto the sub-display window.

Apple patent fullscreen iPhone HUD window drawing 001

For what it’s worth, Apple is rumored to be considering an entry into the augmented reality market within the next one to two years, with initial solutions potentially integrated into iPhone and possibly an Apple-branded digital glasses with Carl Zeiss optics.

Apple’s patent credits engineers Benjamin M. Rappoport, Jeremy C. Franklin, Fletcher R. Rothkopf, Scott A. Myers, Richard P. Howarth, Julian Hoenig, Christopher J. Stringer, John P. Ternus and Stephen Brian Lynch as its inventors.

I’m more excited for the thru-holes in the display than any AR applications.

Putting the components behind the display would help either completely eliminate or drastically reduce the size of the phone’s “forehead” (the bread above the screen) and “chin” (the area below the screen where the Home button is located.

As a result, iPhone 8’s screen-to-body ratio should help engineer a device with a large screen that wouldn’t feel massive in one’s hand as iPhone 7 Plus does while being more comfortable to grip like Samsung’s curved-screen Galaxy lineup of smartphones are.

For instance, Xiaomi’s recently launched Mi Mix fits a 6.4-inch AMOLED panel in a 5.7-inch body by using piezoelectric ceramic acoustic system for phone calls, replacing the proximity sensor with some cool tech, using an in-screen Home button and more.

What do you think about Apple’s latest patent grant and does it pave the way for a next-generation iPhone with a full-face display, do you think?

Source: USPTO

  • Corey Hawkins II

    The rumors are starting to come together with the new patents being filed. Excited to see some components in the future.

  • Ara Rezaee

    The camera quality will surely degrade considerably, other sensors should work fine.

    • Rowan09

      How do you come to this conclusion?

      • Ara Rezaee

        There won’t be enough light going through the lens.

      • Fanboy 

        Omg you should work for Apple, since you’re so smart and have it all figured out. Or let the Apple Engineers do their job, which obviously taking into consideration not degrading the camera quality.

      • Ara Rezaee

        It’s physics my dear Fanboy, you can’t do against physics. The only way they can pull it off is either have multiple cameras and develop a good stacking algorithm (which introduces artificial shapes and stuff and cost more), or use a very large sensor which not only costs a lot it will make the phone thicker and we both know Apple hates that.

      • Fanboy 

        People once thought we couldn’t fly objects with people in the sky because of “physics”. That’s what they pay engineers for, to figure things out. If Apple is testing in these fields it’s because they know there’s a way to do it, and they know something you don’t.

      • Ara Rezaee

        Yeah, no.

      • Kaptivator

        I was gonna…but I removed my comment. Just take the thumbs down. lol

      • Martynet

        The rules and facts of physics are changing every day. It’s called progress. And if everyone was thinking like you do, we would still live in the caves…

      • Ara Rezaee

        Trying very hard not to come off d*uchey, but if I were king of the world you’d be living in a far more advanced society. (really!) Any how, should Apple decide to hide the front cam using this patent, I’ll be here and one of us will be eating crow. BTW the rules and facts of physics will never ever change, our understanding of it will, and our understanding of it has not advanced all that much in the past half century specially in the optics front.

      • Rowan09

        It gives the camera specs.

  • Mike M. Powell

    So what ya think. 7 vs 7s(8) when it comes out based on rumors. Worth paying off early based on these rumors?

    • Ara Rezaee

      Performance wise you’d be better off skipping the 8, feature wise its going to be a doozy. I personally would definitely get the 8.

      • Rowan09

        Why?

      • Ara Rezaee

        Why what?

      • Rowan09

        You said performance wise it’s better to skip the 8. I’m trying to figure out how you come to that conclusion? Ever iPhone performance wise has always been better than the phone before it.

      • Ara Rezaee

        I never said it’s going to have the same chip, it will obviously be faster, but the iPh7 is quite fast enough so the difference will be negligible

      • Rowan09

        My point is you made it seem as if performance wise it’s going to be a step back is all I’m saying. There is no such thing as fast enough with technology, it can always be faster, especially after months of usage.

      • Ara Rezaee

        If what I said was not clear then I thoroughly apologize, that was not what I intended. That being said though I can’t help but disagree, while there will be performance improvements, it IMHO will not justify forking over 800 bucks, the features will, but the performance alone wont, not since the 5S anyways. (I could make the same argument for Intel CPUs and Macs)

  • Eliijah Moss

    Apple doesn’t typically use products that have been recently filled for a green light. I can see this type of technology being produced next year. If they do pull it off for production this year, then kudos to them. I just wouldn’t bet all of my money on it as to how most of what the media knows is nothing but rumors.

    • SpideyRules

      I was going to say the same. I’m sure the next iteration has been in development for a while, and just now getting these patents pretty much guarantees we won’t see them this time around.

      • Jon20

        That’s true but Apple needs a “Hail Mary” right now because they basically have had the same form factor for 3 years now and even your average iPhone user is starting to notice the decline in innovation and not willing to upgrade as often because it’s not really worth it to them. I hope all this stuff shows up on this next one but we’ll see.

  • Bacillus

    Typical Applrogance. They don’t have an OLED process. So filing a patent based on the competition’s production process effectively means lawyers working against other lawyers working for the competition