According to a post on tech blog Apple Insider, the Cupertino company was granted a patent that enables ear speakers, cameras, and a heads-up display (ostensibly for AR purposes) behind the edge-to-edge screen. This could depart from traditional iPhone design, which relies on sensors and circuitry located in the phone’s top and bottom panels.
The patent suggests that the openings created as a result of the result could be crafted based on the application being used in the phone. As Apple Insider points out, a camera opening could be circular while that for a sensor module could be "order of magnitude larger."
It will also pave the way for a secondary display unit by making a portion of the back of the phone transparent by using glass and enabling users to view scenes through that unit. In turn, this would allow Apple to create an Augmented Reality (AR) experience, similar to the one available through the hit game Pokemon Go. Except, in this case, iPhone users will be able to view an augmented version of the scene before them through the glass display instead of through a camera lens (as happens in most AR applications on smartphones).
The new design is expected to debut in the next generation of iPhones, which has been codenamed Ferrari internally, later this year. It will be the eighth generation of iPhones. The company released the iPhone 7 to lukewarm responses last year.
While Apple has not released sales numbers, estimates suggest that it has been beaten to the punch by rival Samsung. Analysts are expecting the next generation of Apple’s iPhones, which are being released on its tenth anniversary, to revive its fortunes. For example, Morgan Stanley released an analyst report earlier this week that had a bullish take on the company. One of the reasons cited by the firm was the prospect of increased sales, thanks to the release of next generation iPhones