Samsung has submitted a lot of patents this year, and the one we'll talk about in this article is arguably one of the most interesting ones. It seems like Samsung is planning to release a fully bezel-less smartphone down the road, at least if the provided patent is to be believed. This patent has been submitted back in April, but it was not published until the end of November, and it is now making the rounds online. This patent was submitted with the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Office), and as you can see, it takes advantage of the company's flexible display. The display wraps around not only on the sides of the phone, but also above and below the display, basically all sides have a part of the display on them. Interestingly enough, this is not even a design patent, but a utility patent, but that did not prevent Samsung from submitting two really low-quality images which show off this patent in action. As you can see, this phone does not even have visible bezels on the sides, at all, as the screen covers everything that you can see from the front. These images are really poor quality, and the phone that is shown here is not exactly well put together in terms of the design, but you can easily see that the display wraps around the sides, and that even icons are being utilized on the sides. Letsgodigital actually created images that show what this may look like on an actual phone, these are only concept images (last two images in the gallery, and the featured image), but they are inspired by Samsung's patent. We do not really know how would this work because of the accidental presses of the display, but we're guessing that Samsung would try to solve that via software. Chances are that this phone will not launch anytime soon, but it would be interesting to see it announced at some point, that's for sure.
Background: Samsung had patented a lot of designs over the course of the last year or so, though we've seen most of the company's foldable smartphone patents, and patents with display camera holes. The company seems to be putting great focus on foldable smartphones at the moment, as it is planning to release its very first foldable smartphone in early 2019, and that smartphone will feature Samsung's flexible display. So, that display will basically not going to be foldable, even though the phone will, kind of. Well, that very same display can be used on a phone such as the one that is shown in today's patent, as all Samsung would need to do is bend it on all sides, which should not be a problem at all considering that the display itself is quite resilient, if it can get bent all the time in the company's flexible smartphone, it can stay curved permanently in this smartphone, without a problem. There are a lot of questions that come to mind when it comes to this smartphone, though, as an earpiece, front-facing cameras, and sensors are not visible on the phone. As we've already mentioned, a phone such as this one will not become a reality anytime soon, so it's quite possible that Samsung is expecting to be able to put all of those sensors under the display, save for the earpiece. An ideal solution for the regular front-facing sensors and a front-facing camera(s) would be to be included under the display, though that's still not possible due to today's tech. Companies can put a camera under the display, but the performance of that camera would be obstructed by the display, not only would the picture be much darker, but the smudges on the display would affect its performance as well… and those are only the things that come to mind this very second, there are quite probably more obstacles that stand in the way of such implementation. With time, however, such implementation will quite probably become possible, and thus we'll see truly bezel-less smartphones.
Impact: Nobody knows what the future holds for smartphones, but we'll either move towards fully bezel-less smartphones, or foldable ones down the road. Both options seem viable, as bezels have been getting thinner for a long time now, and even though we did not see a fully bezel-less smartphone just yet, we've come close to it. Thanks to the decrease in bezel thickness, smartphone OEMs have managed to cram in truly huge displays in today's smartphones, while keeping smartphone footprints somewhat manageable. Before, it was hard to imagine carrying around a smartphone with 6+ display, as tablets sported 7-inch displays and they were rather large. Well, things have changed, smartphones now have a lot larger displays, and thus tablets are no longer necessary, in a sense, which is part of the reason why tablet sales have been declining for a long time now. Some would say that bezel-less smartphones are the answer, while the others claim that foldable phones are. Foldable phones may actually bring a much larger display to the table, in a rather compact form factor, but there are some issues here as well. Today's smartphones are really thin, they're around 7mm thick, and it's hard to imagine foldable smartphones ever being this thin. The very first foldable smartphones will quite probably be much thicker than 10mm, and that could represent a rather significant problem for most people. In addition to that, foldable smartphones are expected to sport much thicker bezels than today's flagship, which is yet another concern. All in all, if you cannot carry around a phone with you, in your pocket, without a problem, many would argue that it's not worth the hassle, and pocketability could be an issue when it comes to foldable smartphones. Companies will surely do their best to make those phones as thin as possible, but considering that a flexible display is used, that display doesn't fold, it only bends to a certain degree. In addition to that, you have the casing for both parts of the display to think of, not to mention the hinge in the middle of such a smartphone. All in all, it's very difficult to imagine foldable smartphones being nearly as thin as today's flagship offerings, and foldable smartphones will also be quite expensive at first it seems… so it remains to be seen if OEMs will find a solution for such obstacles, and will people actually be interested in foldable smartphones, or are they just a passing trend.