iPhone 8 may feature touch sensors on back panel, virtual buttons

iphone 8 concept
Image Credit: Veniamin Geskin

Apple’s next iPhone 8 is widely expected to feature at least one OLED model which is composed of edge-to-edge glass on the front and back. Now a fresh report sheds some light on a few patents Apple has filed for which offer a glimpse at what the manufacturer could be planning for the future.

One patent application titled Electronic Devices with Display and Touch Sensor Structures talks about how touch sensors will be laid across a phone’s entire outside body. This effectively translates to sensors being present on the top, bottom, left and right sides.

Such a radical switch could mean the end of the road for physical buttons as Apple might replace them with virtual ones. Previous reports have widely speculated that the brand plans to implement a virtual home button for the iPhone 8, so the prospect of virtual volume controls isn’t that far off.

Also Read: iPhone 8 price leaked

Apple even posits a scenario where a device is in landscape mode as a camera and offers options like a virtual shutter button or a slider button to adjust things like color and contrast. The handset’s buttons would go back to volume controls once a person exits the Camera app. The idea sounds similar to what the brand’s doing with its OLED Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro to a certain extent.

The patent also elaborates on how placing sensors on a smartphone’s back would be desirable for games and other apps. It may be possible to take advantage of the added control to do things like swipe up and down or scroll through pages. Patently Apple notes that this concept dates back to 2006 though, so there’s no guarantee that the feature will make its debut with the iPhone 8.

Other recently surfaced patents elaborate on Apple’s plans for a bendable iPhone which could be folded like a book or turned on a hinge.