Apple has been granted two new patents that are particularly interesting to anyone who’s been following the iPhone 8 rumor mill: a patent for “Reducing the border area of a device” and one for a fingerprint sensor embedded directly in a screen, as spotted by Patently Apple.
In other words, Apple has patents to two of the biggest features that are rumored to appear on the next iPhone. Now, obviously, these are just patents, plenty of which get filed and granted but never actually show up on a shipping device. But if you were looking for even more proof that Apple is at least exploring the idea of a bezel-less iPhone with a Touch ID sensor built into the screen, there you have it.
Reading the patents, the implementations described are pretty much exactly what you’d expect for the two features:
A flexible substrate can be used to fabricate the display panel and/or the touch sensor panel (referred to collectively herein as a "circuit panel") of a mobile electronic device so that the edges of the display panel and/or the touch sensor panel can be bent. Bending the edges can reduce the width (or length) of the panel, which in turn can allow the overall device to be narrower without reducing the display/touch-active area of the device.
In other words, Apple’s patent covers creating a screen out a flexible material so that the panel and touch sensors could curve around the edge of the display, for a thinner device without cutting down on screen size. It’s exactly the same strategy employed by Samsung to create the Infinity Display on the Galaxy S8.
Meanwhile, the fingerprint reader patent is a little more complex, but it describes a sensor that is integrated directly into the display to more easily access the sensor while in the middle of using apps. It’s also not the first patent we’ve seen related to this subject from Apple, either, which seems to indicate that the company is at least considering the idea.