Samsung started building phones with curved screens beginning with last year’s Galaxy S6, a risky move that has now paid off if Samsung’s reinvigorated sales are an indication. The current Galaxy S7 has perfected that design and the fact that the latest Note 7 phablet adopts the S7’s gorgeous wraparound screen signals Samsung’s confidence in the new industrial design which breaks away from the flimsy plastic the firm used just two short years ago.
Apple, too, is said to be rolling out a brand new industrial design for the Tenth Anniversary iPhone in 2017, with rumors and analysts pointing to a Galaxy Edge-like wraparound AMOLED display for the device. Which begs the question, what’s the reasoning behind curved-screen phones other than the looks?
It’s about usability
According to Hong Yeo, the Note 7’s lead designer, it’s not as much about the looks or side ticker—a software feature allowing stocks, weather and other tidbits of information to be displayed on screen edges—as it is about usability and user experience.
In Yeo’s own words:
A mobile phone is more than something you look at. You touch and use it every day. We wanted to improve that grip level, and the curved display allows us to have that perfect grip. When people hold it for the first time they’re surprised by how smooth and seamless it is.
I couldn’t agree more.
In fact, I would be willing to bet that this is also one of Apple’s chief guiding principles in designing a future iPhone with the rumored Galaxy-like wraparound screen (though I wouldn’t rule out the important wow factor entirely).
Samsung’s “Project Zero”
Realizing its phones were becoming boring, Samsung last year kicked off “Project Zero,” a comprehensive internal design initiative to recreate flagship Galaxy phones from scratch and with curved screens in mind.
A normal customer feels like we just started the S6, but we’ve been preparing for the S6 for a very long time. We’ve always had that technology and those materials, but we really wanted to perfect and wait for the right time to bring it into market. The S6 was the transformation when everything met together. The new Note is when we really perfected and refined that whole process.
Engineering a curved-screen device was easier said than done, he added.
“We were questioning every surface, questioning every edge,” Yeo said. “That was the key highlight of the design. Perfect symmetry from front to back is really hard to do, especially with the curved glass.”
Apple’s “Project Zero”
If the rumors pan out, the iPhone 7 is going to look very similar to the 6s, minus a few design changes like the removal of two horizontal antenna bands from the backside.
For a top-to-bottom overhaul of the Apple handset, we’ll have to wait another year.
How Samsung out-designed Apple with its curved-screen phones, do you think?
Source: Business Insider