Apple is working on a revolutionary upgrade ahead of the iPhone 8 release date
Apple is expected to pull-out all the stops for the next generation phone, which will mark the 10th anniversary of the iconic smartphone when it launches in mid-September 2017.
The Apple iPhone 8, which some sources believe will be marketed as iPhone X, is rumoured to arrive with a dual-curved OLED display, new all-glass design, improved dual-camera set-up, and no physical Home Button – a first for the device.
Earlier this month, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at the scale of the blockbuster upgrade coming to the iPhone range later this year.
And now another prominent rumour around Apple's upcoming smartphone plans has resurfaced.
It's the rumour that refuses to go away, and now there is even more evidence Apple is actively investigating the possibility of making a flexible iPhone in the not-too-distant future.
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iPhone 8 is shaping up to be one of the most impressive Apple smartphones to date, with glass panels on the front and rear of the device, a curved borderless OLED display and no Home Button
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Apple iPhone 8 will debut a brand-new all-glass look, with a curved OLED display and no physical Home Button
Flexible displays and pliable hardware are widely-tipped to be the future of smartphones, and it's clear that Apple does not want to be left behind when these devices become the mainstream. Backing up these reports, an official US patent application filed by Apple has emerged online.
According to the document from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple is hard at work on "a flexing display that is moveable between a folded position and an unfolded position".
This would allow the next-generation iPhone to ship with a large iPad-like display, which folds away into a footprint small enough to pocket.
In its patent, Apple details how the unannounced iPhone would play host to "a sensor that detects whether the flexible display is in the folded position or the unfolded position."
US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE • PATENTLY APPLE
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The US patent shows how the technology would work in a flexible smartphone design
Using this, it adds it will benefit from "processing circuitry that automatically turns on the flexible display when the flexible display moves from the folded position to the unfolded position."
Working in reverse, this technology will also turn-off the display when it’s re-folded.
Showing just how far the technology needs to come, Apple’s latest patent filing stipulates that as well as a flexible display panel, the future phone will have to feature a flexible circuit board and a flexible battery with flexible battery cells.
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The patent has also revealed that instead of metal, glass or even plastic, this phone’s body will be crated from fabric to make it more pliable.
It states that the phone will feature “a fabric housing member that supports the flexible display, adding “the fabric-based housing structure comprises a layer of fabric on a rigid support structure.”
Although Apple is known to be working on flexible phones, it’s believed that the iPhone 8 will come too early for the innovative technology.
And while there may not be a flexible form on the cards, rumours suggest the iPhone 8 will include a dual-curved display that wraps around the edge of the device, like the award-winning Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge or upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8.
This concept artwork imagines the display curving around the device, like the Apple Watch
Apple iPhone 8 is expected to launch an entirely-new design
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Apple will purportedly introduce a new all-glass design with a curved OLED display, facial recognition, and wireless charging.
The Cupertino company is also expected to drop the physical Home Button from the front of the device.
According to renown analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, the death of this iconic button will allow Apple to use an uninterrupted, single sheet of glass for the front of the device.
Apple is purportedly looking to incorporate the Touch ID fingerprint sensor from the physical Home Button beneath the glass display.
According to Kuo, the current system Apple uses for its fingerprint recognition will not work through an all-glass design.
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Concept images reflect Apple's rumoured decision to drop the iconic Home Button
Instead, Mr Kuo claims, the new fingerprint sensor will require optical sensors to read the print resting on the display.
The complicated new display set-up, which presumably will still need to incorporate the pressure-sensitivity debuted with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, will require a number of new, custom solutions from the panel manufacturers.
However the KGI Securities research report states that Apple has enough clout within the industry to get the system built ready for the new iPhone.
Alongside the new fingerprint recognition technology, the iPhone 8 could also see Apple introduce facial tracking sensors into its flagship smartphone, Mr Kuo has claimed.
These could be used to scan users' faces to help verify identification.
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Mr Kuo believes the fingerprint recognition system will "ultimately be replaced by a facial recognition system" in an effort to make the iPhone even more secure.
"However, if the technical challenges cannot be overcome, we believe a combination of fingerprint and facial recognition is another possible solution," he writes.
Elsewhere, Apple is reportedly looking to distance itself from the curved aluminium design language it has used for the past three generations of iPhone, first introduced with iPhone 6.
With the Home Button gone, Apple can extended the display to the bottom of the phone – reducing the chunky bezels around the screen, and shrinking the overall footprint of the device.
The new 10th anniversary edition of the iPhone is also expected to be modelled with an all-glass design, similar to the iPhone 4 and 4S.
Apple is expected to debut its new industrial design language early next year with a refresh of its iPad range.