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Samsung Working on Wild Wraparound Phone Displays

Samsung has been rumored for months to be working on new display technologies, including a foldable screen for a Galaxy X device. But there's something else the company has up its sleeve.

Samsung could be pushing well beyond the curved screen on the Galaxy S8. Credit: USPTO

(Image credit: Samsung could be pushing well beyond the curved screen on the Galaxy S8. Credit: USPTO)

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) last week published a Samsung patent application centered on a wraparound display for a smartphone. The patent, which was earlier reported on by Patently Mobile, shows a device that would have a screen entirely cover its face and then wrap around the side and extend across the back.

One side of the handset wouldn't have any screen, ostensibly as a place to place your fingers while holding the device.

Additionally, the handset comes with what Samsung calls a Smart Side Bar. That feature sits on the curve and provides access to a slew of functions and icons, allowing you to quickly access different apps that would be displayed either on the front or the back of the device. The icon that's displayed on the Smart Side Bar can also be slid to different parts of the screen, according to Patently Mobile.

More: Samsung Just Patented the Phone Design of Tomorrow

Samsung has been working on a variety of screen technologies beyond just the standard display. The company, which has its own display subsidiary, has been one of the leaders in curved displays. For the last couple of years, Samsung has been working on foldable screens. Most recently, that foldable screen technology popped up at Mobile World Congress, and Samsung is now said to be working on prototypes it'll share with industry partners this year. If all goes well, the foldable smartphone could make its debut next year.

A wraparound display could be another way that Samsung sees smartphone technology going. But exactly how it would be implemented isn't immediately clear. There are potential pitfalls to offering a wraparound screen, including the possibility of damage of when the handset drops to the ground.

There's also a question of how the handset would know that a person wants to interact with different parts while holding the device.

According to Patently Mobile, Samsung describes a slew of sensors and modules that will react based on user gestures. A grip sensor, for instance, might tell the handset that users want to interact with the screens.

But like other companies, Samsung files for patents all the time. Whether this will find its way to store shelves one day or is little more than a concept is unknown.

Don Reisinger is a communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter who has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine and The New York Times, as well as Tom's Guide.