Innovation is not dead in the smartphone space, folks. Perhaps no company knows that better than Samsung, which has been changing the way we think of smartphone displays over the past few generations of handsets. The curved edge design proved so popular that both the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ have adopted it in place of flat panels. Looking ahead, Samsung's next flagships might sport a wraparound display that covers both the front and back.
Samsung is laying the groundwork for such a design. It was recently awarded a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a smartphone with full wraparound display that covers the front, back, and edges of the handset, and it detailed how it plans to utilize the design.
Among the documents filed are call outs to an app drawer that would sit on the side of the phone, as shown above. Users would be able to launch apps by tapping them. They could also drag an app drawer to the front or back, depending on where they wanted the app to open. There could be up to 100 icons on the spine of the handset, which the user could scroll through. Samsung calls this a Smart Side Bar.
It is not a surprise that Samsung is focusing on display innovations. Beyond being the main part of a smartphone, Samsung owns its own display division, so the R&D is already in place. Through its display division, Samsung has been a driving force in advancing curved displays. At Mobile World Congress earlier this year, Samsung talked about its folding screen technology and said it plans to show off prototypes sometime this year. That means we could see phones with foldable screens as early as 2018.
In this case, Samsung filed the patent back in October 2016. It could eventually result in an actual product, or it could be something that Samsung decides to kick to the curb.