Apple is about to throw us a curve.
According to multiple reports, the number one smartphone company in the world could switch to a curved OLED display as early as next year.
OLED is a technology used in many Android phones from Samsung and others; its one big claim to fame is that the screen has a much more impressive "pop" in terms of color quality than LCD. One of my favorite phones ever, the Google Pixel, uses an OLED screen. It's so clear and bright, I tended to use the phone more often for photos on a recent trip to Europe because the photos looked brighter and much more colorful.
Using a curved display would separate Apple from companies like HTC and Motorola, although LG and others have already tried making curved phones with limited success. If you see one in the wild, it does tend to draw extra attention.
As we all know, anything Apple makes (other than a smartwatch, in my view) seems to become a cultural touchstone. I've tested the LG curved phones and there are some interesting perks. One is that movies tend to take on a slightly more cinematic effect like you are in a theater. When you talk, the microphone used for your voice is a touch closer to your mouth (a minor point). And, you at least feel a bit more cocooned.
At the larger iPhone 7 Plus size of 5.5 inches, a curved phone would also help reduce glare somewhat, especially when you are using the phone around competing light sources. It's also worth noting that curved displays are becoming more common with desktop monitors and televisions, so it makes sense that Apple would go this route.
Still, there's no clear proof that Apple will release a curved iPhone 8 next year. The Cupertino tech giant is testing at least ten different prototypes, according to one report. Samsung is one of the main suppliers for curved OLED displays, so that's an issue in terms of buying that part of the phone from a main competitor. And, while parts suppliers have been told to look into production for OLED displays for the next iPhone, these predictions are never 100% accurate.
I'm a bit incredulous about whether Apple will go in this new direction, and here's why. Apple has a history of sticking with what works. If they do make a curved model, my guess is that it will be called the iPhone 8 Curved and will join a standard LCD display version of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus that have flat screens but faster processors and other new features. Having two different display types is something only Apple could pull off since they have the resources to make it happen.
Some of the recent Apple releases have impressed me in terms of individual innovations--like the dual-lens camera on the iPhone 7 Plus and the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro. However, a curved display is one of those uniquely visual innovations.
An iPhone 8 Curved would look amazing in commercials and at the Apple Store. It would sell itself. Whether people will actually understand the fairly minor benefits (and possible downsides, such as using a new display technology for the first time) is a bit hard to predict. When Apple does something it suddenly becomes legitimate and trendy, even if it has existed before.
What do you think? I'm interested in whether you think the curved display is a good idea or if this could turn into a failed product move for Apple. Post in comments!