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Apple reveals 'smart bezel' technology

A patent application from Apple, revealed by the US Patents and Trademark Office for the first time this week, suggests that the company is considering adding a secondary display to its portable devices - secreted away in the bezel.

Designed to make use of the otherwise wasted space around the screen, the patent - spotted by Apple-watchers Patently Apple - describes a method of adding a secondary screen to this area using a printed-segment electroluminescent display.

Apple's patent points out, quite fairly, that pixels in portable displays are a precious commodity - and that the more on-screen indicators you have available, the less room there is for actual content to be displayed. While Apple has a head-start in this regard thanks to the extremely high resolution of the 'retina' display on the iPhone 4, it's still a problem - and one that Apple believes it may have solved.

By adding a secondary display - which wouldn't be a 'display' in the traditional sense, as it would only be able to light up - Apple would be able to move some of the on-screen indicators away from the main display and on to the bezel, leaving more room for the content the user actually wants to see.

So far, there's no indication that Apple plans to bring the patented technology into production - and the company, as usual, refuses to comment on such speculation - but it's certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that the iPhone 5, or possibly 6, could ship with a 'smart' bezel

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