Is a Curved Screen the Tailfin of the iPhone 6?

Bigger screens. Near-field communication. High-speed data. Productivity suites. Barring a major breakthrough that allows a smartphone to do the dishes or change your motor oil, we're on the verge of a plateau in terms of what the ubiquitous devices can add to our lives.

So when Apple comes out with a new iPhone version next summer, it will be interesting to see what new innovation the folks in Cupertino can come up with to provide the "wow factor" the company needs to stay on top. Better screen resolution, a sharper camera and slimmer form factor may not be enough to keep current users upgrading, bring in new customers, and compete with the wide range of competitors. That includes Samsung, whose devices are most similar to the iPhone.

Behind the Curve?

The latest speculation centers on curved screens that may allow you to better view games and video.

Many major iPhone rumors, from the Verizon CDMA version in 2011 to the larger screen on the iPhone 5 in 2012, and the cheaper 5C model this year tend to be true, whether the result of leaks or good guess work by analysts. So with some curved displays already on the market, and Apple recently gaining a patent for a curved display, it seems likely the iPhone 6 will be seriously bent.

Analyst Charles King of Pund-IT sees the trend as an ushering in of stylistic changes in the smartphone market that have little bearing on functionality.

"We may be nearing a defining 'tailfin' moment for smartphones," said King, noting the era in the late 1950s and early 60s when cars such as Plymouths and Cadillacs sported tailfins.

"Some dealers claimed the fins defined advances in streamlining that enhanced overall speed and stability. But the fact was that tailfins were simply stylistic encumbrances that reflected current taste (or lack thereof)...

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