new Apple iPhone patent

A new patent could offer a sneak preview of the futuristic wraparound screen design of the iPhone 6.

The design, filed this week, shows a device with a 360 degree screen and no buttons, which would enable users to view content in the round.

The flexible AMOLED screen could be fitted on to the clear glass or aluminium chassis.

It could display different images on the front and back, opening the potential for innovative multiplayer games, or show content in a continuous loop, and could even be used to show 3D material.

Its rounded edges and curved surfaces distinguish it from its block-like predecessors.

Though the device may appear more likely to break if dropped, stronger glass such as that used on the camera of the iPhone 5 could reduce the risk of it cracking.

Inbuilt cameras could track also the position of the user's face to ensure the content is displayed the right way round.

Apple founder Steve Jobs repeatedly strove to minimise the number of buttons on devices, and the patented model contains no buttons at all, with the home button, 'hold' and volume buttons all replaced with touch screen controls.

The glass would not necessarily be flexible to touch, with the display enclosed in glass that could be bent into shape but rigid, like Corning's new Willow Glass.

It would make use of flexible display technology, which is rapidly becoming more sophisticated.

Earlier this year Samsung, Apple's main rival, unveiled a flexible screen smartphone at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas and it is reportedly going into production this year.

A number of futuristic designs have been patented by Apple recently, including fingerprint recognition technology and a stylus or iPen, which it is believed may appear in future designs.

iPhone 6 is expected to be released this year.