As anticipation builds ahead of the unveiling of the iPhone 7, the number of leaks regarding the Apple smartphone is increasing. And the latest news suggests that the consumer electronics giant may produce an edge-to-edge display when the iPhone 7 is released. This latest leak has come via Chinese social media, with Weibo purportedly showcasing a version of the iPhone 7 featuring the expanded screen design.

While there are some doubts about the authenticity of this particular image, it still begs the question of whether Apple could consider introducing an edge-to-edge iPhone 7 in 2016. We know from previous filed patents that Apple has the ability to deliver this technology, but would it be feasible for the corporation, and is there enough incentive for Apple to indeed do so?

iPhone 7 Patent

iPhone 7 Patents field

It has already been reported extensively in the media that Apple has filed patents for this technology several months ago. However, the idea of an edge-to-edge display has also been accompanied by the notion that Apple could produce a curved screen variant of the iPhone 7 as well. Both of these are practically possible, and we also know that Apple has the technology available for both devices in its portfolio of patents.

Although Apple made its reputation as an innovator, it surely seems too much to hope for that the corporation could release two entirely new iPhone 7 units in 2016, and that both of these would feature brand new design parameters. This would be an extremely ambitious undertaking for Apple, and considering that it is the market-leader by some distance, it is extremely debatable whether the corporation needs to take such a gamble over what would be an absolutely huge undertaking.

So if Apple is to produce a new iPhone 7 variant in 2016, it seems likely that the corporation will need to choose between a curved screen variant of the smartphone, or the edge-to-edge display that has been suggested recently. With this in mind, Apple must simply assess which is more likely to be popular, and also which would attract new users to the iPhone range that have otherwise resisted Apple’s products.

Kuo comments on rumors

Certainly the most famous Apple analyst in the world believes that Apple will opt for the curved screen variant of the iPhone in the forthcoming generation. Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities believes that Apple has already planned for the release of a curved screen version of the iPhone 7, and that this smartphone would ultimately deliver a new audience for the Apple smartphone. Kuo has also suggested that Apple will introduce OLED technology in 2016, and thus essentially embrace qualities that have proved significantly successful and which have been critically acclaimed in recent Samsung products.

While an edge-to-edge display can be a pleasing design aspect of a smartphone, the curved display is really much more of an innovation. Samsung has particularly showcased this functionality in its range of high-end television sets, which have become among the most popular on the planet. Samson is revelling in his position of being the most prolific seller of television sets in the world, having established itself as the leader in this marketplace in 2008. And curved screen technology has further cemented this status, while also adding something unique and admired to the Galaxy range of mobiles.

It thus seems that Apple would benefit more from producing its own curved screen version of the iPhone 7 than an edge-to-edge variant. So this begs the question of whether Apple could completely abandon its existing iPhone 7 and decide in favor of edge-to-edge displays, while also releasing a curved variant concurrently.

iPhone 7 Patent

Next generation

This would be a pretty radical move for an iPhone smartphone which still remains hugely popular. However, Apple does need to distinguish the next generation iPhone 7 from the previous model of the series, and this could prompt the consumer electronics giant to significantly redesign its exterior. It will have been two years since the iPhone received a significant redesign, and this could prompt Apple to make the big decision of removing bezels from the main iPhone 7 unit completely.

Indeed, the general slimming down of bezels in technology devices is particularly fashionable at the moment, and again it is an area where Samsung has led the way. The television sets of the past now look rather chunky quite compared to the offerings that Samsung puts on the market today, with the bezel included in the sets only just large enough to enable the Korean corporation to write its name as an identifier.

Producing an edge-to-edge display for the iPhone 7 would also enable Apple to make significant changes to either the construction of the device, or possibly the display included in it. An edge-to-edge screen would enable Apple to either increase the size of the display in the iPhone 7 while retaining the same device size, or more likely slim down the iPhone 7 even further, producing a leeker handset than last year’s iPhone 6S.

iPhone 7 Patent

New smartphone ethos

This would surely appeal to Apple, which has always relied on the design parameters and quality of its devices in order to attract consumers. And if there has been a criticism of recent smartphone releases – although it has been more readily directed at Samsung than Apple – it is that they are simply too large and unwieldy. Indeed, it seems that the 4-inch iPhone SE is very much a direct response to this accusation, with Apple essentially releasing a smartphone that goes against the general trends of the market.

Apple may recognize that there is little to be gained at this point in time from producing devices with excessively large displays and more detailed resolutions, and that perhaps the growth engine in the smartphone marketplace is producing more convenient and flexible handsets. This could lead the corporation to seriously consider the inclusion of an edge-to-edge display in the mainstream iPhone 7, and certainly consumers desiring a more compact handsets would benefit massively from this decision. This could then be accompanied by a larger iPhone 7 Edge curved device, ensuring that Apple covers all bases.