In short: Samsung is considering a new case design for its 'Edge Display' equipped devices that would feature cutouts allowing more device features to be accessed without removing or opening the case, based on a recently awarded patent reviewed by AndroidHeadlines. Specifically, the documentation describes a method for controlling a portion of a smartphone's display contingent on a case or cover being installed that has a "transparent region" not more than half the width of the display. That's said to "expose" the curved area of the device and at least part of the main display. As shown in the accompanying patent images, that would essentially allow users to control their camera, access messages or email, browse the web, navigate with GPS, and much more without ever opening the case up. So this is a case that appears to take advantage of what would be a progression from previous iterations of the display technology.
Background: Having said that, Samsung has not released an "Edge" handset since the release of its Galaxy S7 family of devices back in 2016. Those were flagship Android smartphones that had an additional display along one edge which curved smoothly from the main screen toward the back of the device. It acted as a kind of secondary slide-out menu for accessing favorite or commonly used applications and to show notifications even when the handset wasn't placed display-side-up. Similarly to how Edge Display menus have worked in the past, the end user controls all of the above-mentioned features via swipes on the edge-based menu and taps on the center-top portion of the display itself with the new patent. However, it goes a bit further by allowing all of those apps and features to be controlled while a folio-style case is in place. Taps and swipes on the menu while the case is closed move pertinent processes to a cut-out on the main display, allowing that portion of the display to serve up a condensed version of the application or actions chosen. When the case is opened up, the full application accessed via the edge menu shows on the full display.
Impact: Although obviously not as rugged as many case designs, the concept in question would make it easier for consumers to actually use their device while still maintaining some level of defense against drops. Moreover, it would open a much wider range of options for that without necessarily draining on battery life like utilizing the entire display would. This could also be an indication that Samsung plans to return to Edge Display-enabled devices at some point in the future using a case like this to tout new functionality and productivity if Samsung uses the patent at all. The company could ultimately go a different route entirely with its handsets.