Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is known for being a design leader, not a follower. But it looks as though the company is preparing to copy a major design cue from rival Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF). A new report suggests Apple will release a new iPhone next year that features a big, AMOLED display that’s curved on both edges.
Apple and Samsung have a history when it comes to copying smartphone designs. Usually, Samsung has been on the hot seat for stealing iPhone features. In fact, the company has been successfully sued by AAPL for that reason, at one point owing $980 million in damages. (That reward was reduced after an appeals court ruled Apple couldn’t patent the basic design of the iPhone.)
Samsung may regret that appeal, because if a report by Nikkei Asian Review is correct, Apple is planning to copy the basic design of Samsung’s popular Galaxy Note 7.
A New iPhone That Borrows From the Galaxy Note 7
Citing “a source familiar with Apple’s plans,” Nikkei says Apple is working on an all-new iPhone for 2017. This would be a premium model, aimed squarely at the Galaxy Note 7.
It wouldn’t just be priced as Apple’s new flagship — sitting above the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus — it would be large and feature a completely different look. It would be the first iPhone to feature an AMOLED display. And that display would be curved to wrap around both sides of the new iPhone.
That sounds very much like the basic design of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, a premium phablet that frequently has been called the best smartphone of 2016.
The story from Nikkei’s source corroborates earlier speculation in MacOS Rumors. In March, the site reported KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi-Kuo (who has a proven track record in predicting Apple releases) was expecting Apple to release a 5.8-inch iPhone with a curved AMOLED display in 2017.
Apple has looked to Samsung for inspiration in the past, most notably with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. After years of resisting the idea of a large smartphone and openly mocking the super-sized phablet category that Samsung essentially kicked off with the original Galaxy Note, Apple caved to popular demand in 2014.
The iPhone 6 was big, and the new iPhone 6 Plus was bigger than that original Galaxy Note. Of course, this time around, Apple would be copying a little more specifically.
Ironically, the only manufacturer currently able to produce large, flexible AMOLED panels in any quantity is Samsung. That would continue the companies’ awkward tie as bitter rivals who also are deep in a supplier/customer relationship.
An All-New iPhone Would Boost AAPL’s Bottom Line
Analysts expect Apple to release a new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in 2017. Those phones are likely going to be significant upgrades from this year’s new iPhone 7 series, including some sort of new look (possible switching from metal to an all-glass case) to help convince consumers to upgrade. They may or may not kickstart the upgrade cycle Apple wants.
However, an all-new iPhone model — one with a completely different design, a superior AMOLED display and the sexy curved screen pioneered by Samsung — would undoubtedly provide a huge sales boost.
With the upscale look, Apple would be able to position and price it as a premium smartphone.
Based on past history, you can bet hardcore Apple customers will be willing to shell out big bucks to show off the ultimate new iPhone. AAPL might even be able to convince a few Android users to defect from the Galaxy Note 7.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.