Apple 'gearing up' to release devices with curved glass in 2012 - report

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Next-generation portable devices from Apple could feature curved glass, as the company has allegedly bought new equipment in preparation to release devices with curved touchscreens next year.



Industry sources believe curved glass displays could be "the next big thing" in handheld devices, DigiTimes reported on Monday. They said that both Apple and non-Apple device makers are "gearing up" to release products with curved touchscreens in the first half of 2012.



Apple's competitors reportedly view curved glass displays as a way they can gain a competitive advantage over the iPhone maker. But Apple is believed to also be showing interest in curved displays.



"Apple reportedly has bought glass polishing equipment for its suppliers in preparation for the production of devices fitted with curved cover glass," the report said.



"Lens Technology, Fuji Crystal, G-Tech are said to be major cover glass suppliers of Apple. While Lens and Fuji focus on iPhones, G-Tech supplies mainly for iPad."



In May, the same publication claimed that Apple had bought between 200 and 300 glass cutting machines to produce curved displays. Apple reportedly made the purchase, and not its cover glass suppliers, because glass makers were said to be "reluctant" to invest in such equipment.



That report suggested that Apple's fifth-generation iPhone could sport a curved glass screen. However, since the report was issued in May, there has been no further indication that Apple intends to release a device with a curved display this year.



Apple has, however, announced one high-profile project that will prominently feature curved glass: the company's plans for a new "spaceship" campus in Cupertino, Calif., will feature curved glass around the outside, creating the giant circular shape.



"There's not a straight piece of glass in this building," Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said in a presentation unveiling the plans in June. "We've used our experience in building retail buildings all over the world. We know how to make the biggest pieces of glass for architectural use."







Curved glass is also expected to play a part in Apple's new Santa Monica store, with a large curved glass ceiling allowing in the California sun. But while curved glass has been a feature of Apple's architectural projects, it has not yet found its way into the company's portable devices.



A unique curved screen is one of the defining characteristics of the Nexus S smartphone released by Google last December. The search giant's second flagship Android device sports a "contour display" for its 4-inch, 480-by-800-pixel AMOLED screen.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "There's not a straight piece of glass in this building," Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said



    Reading between the lines here, does this include the glass-screens of all Apple devices in the building? Hmmm...
  • Reply 2 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post


    Reading between the lines here, does this include the glass-screens of all Apple devices in the building? Hmmm...



    No. It doesn't.
  • Reply 3 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Socrates View Post


    No. It doesn't.



    Pretty sure the OP was just being sarcastic.
  • Reply 4 of 50
    Why would I want curved glass on my phone?
  • Reply 5 of 50
    this is what design is all about... going back and forth between curved and flat every few years and marketing each as superior to what came before it.
  • Reply 6 of 50
    OK, guess I'm clueless. I guess I can kinda see how having the exterior glass be a bit curved might look cool, heck it might even feel pretty cool to hold, but I just really don't "get it" with regards to exactly why they'd want to go down this path? I'd personally rather have a thinner phone vs artificially adding depth due to a curved screen (though I guess the curve could be slight enough to not have a practical effect on perceived depth).



    Though I guess if Apple is intent on making glass in general and curved glass specifically be a part of it's over corporate/product identity then it will be so regardless of any practicalities. I have to admit when I first saw the leaked photo's of iPhone 4 I wasn't impressed until I actually got one and the design really "clicked" with me then.
  • Reply 7 of 50
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,589member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by logic368 View Post


    this is what design is all about... going back and forth between curved and flat every few years and marketing each as superior to what came before it.



    Hardly what design is 'all about' but I assume you are being witty / sarcastic. Design is a fluid and evolving thing, the day it stops it all ends. Life, that is. I love my flat ip4 - it surely must be the flattest phone that ever existed, but a new design with a curved glass used in an Apple-esque minimalist design sounds awesome.
  • Reply 8 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fishstick_kitty View Post


    Why would I want curved glass on my phone?





    Because a curved screen taking up the same space on an iPhone 4 would have a bigger surface area, so in essence you could fit a larger screen on a smaller phone. They done it with the ipod nano.





    PS. we've had it on our TV's for years.
  • Reply 9 of 50
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,589member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by crapday View Post


    Because a curved screen taking up the same space on an iPhone 4 would have a bigger surface area, so in essence you could fit a larger screen on a smaller phone. They done it with the ipod nano.



    Minimally

    Quote:

    PS. we've had it on our TV's for years.



    That's entirely different
  • Reply 10 of 50
    gmhutgmhut Posts: 242member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by crapday View Post


    Because a curved screen taking up the same space on an iPhone 4 would have a bigger surface area, so in essence you could fit a larger screen on a smaller phone. They done it with the ipod nano.





    PS. we've had it on our TV's for years.



    Unless they turn next gen portable devices into a full on cylinder so you'll be carrying a glass coke can of a thing on your person, the tiny bit of extra surface area gained from curved glass would probably be imperceptible. The curved glass of a CRT was due to limitations that went along with creating a picture on the screen by aiming energy from a pivoting gun sitting at a fixed distance centered behind the glass. The curved screen is especially bad as a monitor. Flat CRTs were a godsend. Light, thin, flat LCDs leaps and bound over flat CRT behemoths.



    Maybe there is an advantage to curved glass on portable devices I'm not imagining at the moment, but in and of itself, curved glass on a visual display surface (at least for 2D images) is less than desirable. Despite what many people believe, Apple does not always adhere to the form follows function approach, unless the "function" is to sacrifice a bit of usability in favor of pumping up the "shiny bauble" appeal for the consumer market (glossy monitors, cases that are small for the sake of small to the point of ditching useful function, etc.).



    Hopefully, this won't be another example of Apple coming up with a new "cool" factor that does little to improve the product, but gets nerds and teenagers hot and bothered due to sheer next big thing gadget lust.
  • Reply 11 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fishstick_kitty View Post


    Why would I want curved glass on my phone?



    Because it will be made by Apple.
  • Reply 12 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bitWrangler View Post


    I'd personally rather have a thinner phone vs artificially adding depth due to a curved screen



    How about a thinner phone due to actually reducing depth due to a curved screen?



    What about an arched screen adding structural strength, allowing for a weaker/thinner body?
  • Reply 13 of 50
    If the back is glass so it fits better in your hand like the Magic Mouse, then sure, but not a curve on the touchscreen panel glass.





    edit: Something like this with a much thinner bezel:
  • Reply 14 of 50
    Less reflections?
  • Reply 15 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post


    How about a thinner phone due to actually reducing depth due to a curved screen?



    What about an arched screen adding structural strength, allowing for a weaker/thinner body?



    The thing has electronics that have to fit inside, and it's already pretty thin. I doubt glass will be as strong as an aluminum outer case. The only way to make it thinner AND have a curved glass surface would be to drastically reduce the size of the device's guts and lose the metal outer casing in favor of glass edges that curve in at the outer perimeter where the metal outer casing is now, or maybe split the difference by making the metal back more curved to the point it folds over to form a bit of a rim around the sides to somewhere in the middle of the outer edge where the glass surface curves at the edges.



    No matter what, a curve exists in two planes, whereas a flat surface only one, so if the screen is curved glass, the screen can only be larger in total dimension. I can see a new device with curved glass, thinner at the outer edges being roughly the same depth as existing flat screens, but if the device is to have a curved screen and be perceptibly thinner on whole, whatever needs to fit inside the thing would have to take up a significantly smaller amount of space.



    My guess is, if they do use curved glass, the result will be a very slight rounding across most of the surface with amore extreme rounded bevel at the edges. If there would be an improvement beyond subjective aesthetics from the curved glass, my money would be improved ergonomics as far as how it feels in your hand (which could be subtle but significant)—like holding a bar of soap after the edges have been washed smooth is more comfortable than holding a new bar of soap with sharper edges.
  • Reply 16 of 50
    Just conjecture here, but you could make a curved iPhone or iPod Touch that still fits in your pocket larger than a flat one.



    There's a reason hip flasks are curved.



    Alternatively, it could be for more radically curved "corners" on the products. Dropping the iPhone 4 on the exposed corner is currently the structural weak spot with these glass phones. If there IS no exposed corner on one with an all-curved-glass face, perhaps that would result in a more durable phone, as counter-intuitive as that might seem?
  • Reply 17 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bitWrangler View Post


    OK, guess I'm clueless. I guess I can kinda see how having the exterior glass be a bit curved might look cool, heck it might even feel pretty cool to hold, but I just really don't "get it" with regards to exactly why they'd want to go down this path? I'd personally rather have a thinner phone vs artificially adding depth due to a curved screen (though I guess the curve could be slight enough to not have a practical effect on perceived depth).



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by crapday View Post


    Because a curved screen taking up the same space on an iPhone 4 would have a bigger surface area, so in essence you could fit a larger screen on a smaller phone.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GMHut View Post


    Maybe there is an advantage to curved glass on portable devices I'm not imagining at the moment, but in and of itself, curved glass on a visual display surface (at least for 2D images) is less than desirable.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    If the back is glass so it fits better in your hand like the Magic Mouse, then sure, but not a curve on the touchscreen panel glass.



    I think you're all picturing it the wrong way - I don't think the curved screen will be convex, it'll be concave. Much like the analogy with a CRT screen being curved to accommodate the electron gun (but in reverse), I could see a touchscreen being slightly concave (from the user's perspective) so that "finger distance" remains constant as you sweep and flick.



    As a quick example, think about how when you're stretching an image with finger & thumb; if the screen's slightly concave, you're able to stretch the image more with a smaller motion. Or when you flick to the side, the curve follows the curve of your fingertip's movement - you don't have to (subconsciously, admittedly) adjust your fingertip height to match the flatness of the screen.
  • Reply 18 of 50
    We are talking about Desktop displays here, a thin, iOS-based touchscreen iMac-type device with a curved touch-panel that provides a 3-dimensional-like behavior...



    This is the future of desktop computing, and I have been guessing Apple would eventually do something like this, with curved displays...as well as 3-dimentional displays, touch-glass "table computers" and in-air nuance gesturing for manipulating the OS.



    With this curved display, you may not even have to "touch" the display to issue commands or control the OS, there may be sensors that read your movements in the air, and by waving you hand in a certain direction or making certain gestures or movements in front of the panel can register as a command...



    This is a very interesting rumor/report on a new technology we may see in the near future on the desktop computing side...
  • Reply 19 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Sierrajeff View Post


    I think you're all picturing it the wrong way - I don't think the curved screen will be convex, it'll be concave. Much like the analogy with a CRT screen being curved to accommodate the electron gun (but in reverse), I could see a touchscreen being slightly concave (from the user's perspective) so that "finger distance" remains constant as you sweep and flick.



    As a quick example, think about how when you're stretching an image with finger & thumb; if the screen's slightly concave, you're able to stretch the image more with a smaller motion. Or when you flick to the side, the curve follows the curve of your fingertip's movement - you don't have to (subconsciously, admittedly) adjust your fingertip height to match the flatness of the screen.



    That would mean the whole thing would be a little thicker (Apple usually goes smaller, not bigger), or the electronics inside would have to be smaller to accommodate convex glass encroaching on the physical space internal components take up inside the device.
  • Reply 20 of 50
    Why curved glass? What purpose does it server other than..... well.... roundness for the sake of roundness? Hair brained idea to me.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by crapday View Post


    Because a curved screen taking up the same space on an iPhone 4 would have a bigger surface area, so in essence you could fit a larger screen on a smaller phone. They done it with the ipod nano.





    PS. we've had it on our TV's for years.



    Both the Nano and the TVs were entirely different. The Nano (I assume you mean the one with the camera) was curved so it could sit flush with the rest of the curved case. With regards to Televisions, if the glass was not curved then the Cathode Ray Tubes would not display correctly at the time. But since around 2001, even CRT TVs have been flat screen.
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