Apple pundit John Gruber who runs the Daring Fireball blog has reportedly learned that the next year’s iPhone—which some people think will be marketed as ‘iPhone 8’ rather than ‘iPhone 7s’—may sport an edge-to-edge display that could allow an entirely new form-factor device to have a slightly smaller appearance without sacrificing screen size.
But that’s not all: although Gruber did not say this with complete certainty, he’s heard “scuttlebutt“ suggesting Apple’s somehow managed to integrate Touch ID fingerprint verification, a front-facing camera and other components into the screen itself.
If true, 2017 iPhones should be the most radical departure from the device’s design so we may finally live to see the iPhone get rid of its chin and the forehead.
Gruber dropped the bombshell in the most recent episode of his podcast, The Talk Show. In addition to the Touch ID sensor and the front camera, other components will be embedded into the display as well, including the sensors and the earpiece.
Here’s the full excerpt from The Talk Show:
I think next year’s phone, the 2017 model, the one that will come out in September of 2017. What I have heard—now this is not really from the rumor mill but just scuttlebutt that I’ve heard—is that it will be an all-new form factor.
And there have been some rumors, I guess, but what I’m saying is that I’ve heard this independently and it is completely getting rid of the chin and forehead of the phone.
The entire face will be the display. And the Touch ID sensor will be somehow embedded in the display. The front-facing camera will somehow be embedded in the display. The speaker, everything. All the sensors will somehow be behind the display.
What I don’t know… I have no idea, but whether that means that they’re going to shrink the actual thing in your hand to fit the screen sizes we already have, or whether they’re going to grow the screens to fit the devices we’re already used to holding… I don’t know.
Gruber rarely reports on rumors, but when he does he’s usually spot on. Last year, for example, Gruber heard scuttlebutt that the iPhone 6s would represent “the biggest camera jump” ever for an iPhone.
And boy, was he right: the iPhone 6s has a five megapixel front shooter with True Tone Flash and its rear camera is twelve megapixels and shoots video in crisp 4K resolution.
Here’s an apt edge-to-edge iPhone concept video by ConceptsiPhone.
We previously heard that 2017 iPhones might switch to AMOLED, a superior display technology that produces deeper blacks and more vivid colors while consuming a fraction of the power of the traditional LCD IPS panels used in all iPhones to date.
How to integrate fingerprint verification into display
I think Apple has solved the integration of display and the fingerprint reader.
How do I know this? Because the tech community at large now knows that such an engineering feat is technically possible: earlier in the month, Apple supplier LG Display announced that its Innotek division was able to achieve a major technological breakthrough in producing the world’s first in-screen fingerprint scanner.
By cutting a shallow furrow measuring in at just 0.01 inches (about 0.3 mm) thick on the lower backside of the cover glass, LG’s engineers were able to install a fingerprint sensor inside of it.
How to emulate Home button presses
As for the very function of the Home button, it could be easily emulated with 3D Touch. But how might Apple embed the iPhone’s front-facing camera and the proximity/ambient light sensor into the display, you ask…
How to engineer see-through display
Well, an Apple patent for a crazy see-through display may be the answer to that question. Published in May 2015, that invention calls for a new type of flexible display that has tiny holes which let you both see and hear through it. Such a solution would allow a camera to catch light coming in through the tiny holes in the display.
“The signals may include acoustic signals, electromagnetic signals such as radio-frequency electromagnetic signals and light,” the patent reads.
So, Apple may already have many of the necessary technological pieces in place to produce a cutting-edge iPhone with an edge-to-edge display that embeds Touch ID, various sensors, the speaker and other components into the screen itself.
2017 can’t come soon enough!