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Instead of the familiar square Apple Watch design with a separate band, Apple has also sought out a one-piece construction from a curved or wraparound display.
Where rivals have produced smartwatches with round screens, Apple has always stuck to its more square design, from the beginning until the current Apple Watch Series 6. Among the many patents that Apple applies for and obtains, however, there is now one that seems centered on a round face.
The innocuously named “Display Module and System Applications” is a newly granted patent, with numerous illustrations of what appears to be a round-faced Apple Watch. Significantly, none of the illustrations show an example of an Apple Watch face.
Instead, they show what the patent describes as a “flexible display panel” that can be used on any kind of “portable electronic device.”
“In one embodiment, the wearable electronic device is a smartwatch including a dial, strap, and clasp,” the patent states. “A flexible display panel can be integrated into the smartwatch so that it covers both the watch face and the strap.”
Illustrations of flexible display configurations and their descriptions show rows of display elements. They are only illustrative, but what they suggest is that a Watch display could be made up of multiple panels – and each is square or rectangular.
However, Apple is clearly keen on making maximum use of a device’s real estate to show off as much display as possible. “[For instance]”, explains Apple, “a width of bezel surrounding the display panel can be minimized, for example less than 4-5 mm or even less than 1 mm, less than 0.5 mm, or eliminated.
“Thus, the design of the smartwatch bezel can be designed for aesthetic reasons rather than as a space allocation requirement for a contact rim,” he continues.
Apple has already researched flexible displays for a potential foldable iPhone. It has also been studied to make Apple Watch bracelets capable of providing information to the wearer via Braille.