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Is Apple Developing Curved iPhone Screens?

Is Apple Developing Curved iPhone Screens?
By Jennifer LeClaire

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So far, industry watchers are not really excited about reports of Apple’s anticipated curved iPhone screen because curved glass, per se, is not ultra-innovative. But Apple's inclusion of sensors in the iPhone screen that can distinguish between heavy and light touches is more interesting, said Roger Entner, a principal analyst at Recon Analytics.
 


The smartphone battle between Samsung and Apple may be taking on a curvy twist. According to news reports, the iPhone maker is working on schemes that include larger screens with curved glass and more.

Bloomberg broke the story, which reports Apple is working on the curved glass, as well as “enhanced sensors that can detect different levels of pressure.” The paper cited an unnamed person familiar with the plans as its source.

That person told Bloomberg there are two models planned that will hit the market during the second half of 2014. Both will reportedly offer larger displays with glass that curves downward at the edges. A separate innovation, sensors, could distinguish between heavy or light touches on the screen and may find a home in later models, Bloomberg reports.

Curved: So What?

In terms of curved glass, Samsung is already ahead of Apple. Samsung announced the Galaxy Round in October, marking it the world’s first curved-display smartphone. The device offers a 5.7-inch screen.

The curved design, Samsung said, makes it possible for users to leverage features like the “Roll Effect,” which lets you check information like date, time, missed call and battery even when the home screen is off, and the “Gravity Effect” for creating visual interaction with the screen by tilting the device.

Although it’s new and different, Samsung was not widely celebrated for its innovation as many analysts are still waiting to see the flexible screens the company has promised. That, analysts said, would be head turning. So far, reports of Apple’s anticipated curved screen is drawing similar reactions from some industry watchers.

Good for Gaming

We caught up with Roger Entner, a principal analyst at Recon Analytics, to get his take on the news. He told us curved glass, per se, is not ultra-innovative -- but the ability to distinguish between heavy and light touches is interesting.

“The responsive screens rely on the electric flow between your finger and the phone. With the Galaxy S4s, even if you don’t touch the phone you can see how the currency runs between your finger and the phone,” he said. “Apple can probably do this by measuring how much of the current runs between your finger and the screen.”

But how does this help anybody? Entner said one of the most immediate applications of this type of technology that comes to his mind is games. Right now, you either press the screen or you don’t. The ability to press light or hard paves the way for more nuanced gaming experiences.

“Apple is huge with games.” Entner said. “I am not sure if this feature would make people switch from Android to iOS. But it will make the iPhone a lot more appealing. And it’s as much defending your own base as it is about raising customers from other phones. This may be even more useful on the iPad, which some people are using as their gaming console of choice.”
 

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