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The next iPhone (s aapl) will have a curved glass display, according to DigiTimes, which learned the information from sources in the supply chain. Apple is said to have acquired between 200 and 300 glass cutting machines for glass making partners in order to produce the displays. Suppliers apparently won’t buy the equipment themselves because of the associated costs.
Samsung recently used a curved glass “contour display” in the Nexus S device it created for Google (s goog) in December of 2010. The Nexus S features a slightly concave design, which is reportedly better in terms of perceived usability. The design also allows the screen of the phone to fit more comfortably against a user’s leg in the pants pockets.
Apple also used a curved glass screen on the previous generation iPod nano, although that display was actually convex, not concave. The design seemed mainly intended for aesthetic purposes, though it also arguably provided some ergonomic benefit.
It’s unclear from the report whether Apple intends to use a concave or a convex design with the iPhone 5, but the report does state that Apple is still trying to get yield rates up for the production of the curved glass before the device can go into shipping volume production. That means it could be partially responsible for the rumored change in the iPhone’s release schedule. Curved glass might be a neat trick, but is it really a feature you see Apple investing significant time and money in?