The Apple Watch might be getting a much bigger display in the future if this wild-looking Apple patent is used to make a real product. The greatest limitation of Apple‘s smartwatch is its screen size, limiting the amount of text and images that can be displayed to a screen that’s less than 1.8 square inches. As a secondary screen, it’s quite convenient but can never replace an iPhone, which is big enough to browse the internet and to comfortably watch short videos. A much larger Apple Watch display could transform the industry.

The early history of wearables focused on making these devices more useful. There had to be a reason for more customers to purchase before greater refinements were made. Once the battery life was acceptable, processors were fast enough to be tolerable, and enough apps had been developed, wearables began to catch on and Apple stepped in with a very solid upgrade over the competition with its first Apple Watch in 2015. From there incremental changes have been made to the processors, displays, and sensors without anything really dramatic changing in nearly seven years.

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It’s certainly time for a change and Apple has been working on variations of its market-leading wearable for many years. Apple just won a patent for an incredible Apple Watch design that reveals a screen extending the full length of the band and wrapping around the user’s wrist. The band becomes part of the watch with a flexible screen and a remarkably thin shape. Apple describes it as being similar to a slap bracelet. A slap bracelet is made of curved metal that can be easily bent in the opposite direction of the curve, causing the metal to curl and wrap around the wrist. Apple calls this a bi-stable spring, meaning it has two preferred states, one curled and the other opened into a straight line. Pressure and strain sensors would be able to detect which state this potential Apple Watch is in, and whether it’s being worn, allowing the function to change accordingly. Yanko Design imagined an e-paper smartwatch similar to this in 2008 and rendered the concept in a very glossy and futuristic form.

A Flexible Display Apple Watch

Yanko Design ePaper Smartwatch Concept

If an Apple Watch is ever made with a long, flexible display that can wrap around the wrist, it would be a huge change, disrupting the industry. At the moment, the idea sounds far-fetched, but great ideas come from pushing the limits. While a screen that spans the full length of the band might not have many practical applications, a larger screen would be welcome. A flexible future Apple Watch with a band that’s a bit wider and longer could even be used as an iPhone when unwrapped.

A quick snap to put the Apple Watch on the wrist sounds much more convenient than fiddling with a buckle or stretching a tight Solo Loop over the hand. It should be noted that Apple filed the patent application in 2015, the same year that the first Apple Watch launched. That means there has been a significant amount of time for Apple to work on a new wearable with advanced flexible screen technology. However, an Apple Watch with a long straight display that wraps on the wrist with a snap, most likely won’t be seen in the near future.