Apple has been granted a US patent for an all-glass outer design that could be used for future iPhones, as well as larger electronic gadgets.
It’s unlikely to be something we see in the iPhone 6, due this September, but the patent could be taken as a suggestion of where Apple designs could be headed in the future.
The patent revealed by Apple Insider details a design blueprint using a fused glass outer layer. In order to reduce the weight of the structure, the glass parts are machined to be as thin as is feasible, while any weaker areas are bolstered by retaining extra thickness.
Weaker areas in a phone design might be where holes have to be made to fit in connectors like the iPhone 5S’s Lightning port.
The patent includes plans to make the glass textured or tinted in parts, to avoid any internal components from being too visible.
The glass that would make this sort of design possible is the sapphire crystal glass rumoured to be used in the upcoming iPhone 6. Sapphire is significantly more scratch-resistant than the current toughened glass favourite Gorilla Glass 3.
However, Corning’s own demos show that Gorilla Glass is capable of withstanding more pressure.
Sapphire is incredibly hard, Gorilla Glass incredibly strong. And it’s already used in the iPhone 5S to protect the camera lens, where staying scratch-free is of top importance.
Of course, that Apple has registered a patent on what appears to be a fully-glass iPhone is no guarantee it has any intention of making such a thing.
Closer to home, the iPhone 6 is expected to use Sapphire glass for its front screen panel, but the rear is expected to feature the textured metal look we’re used to in iPhones. The phone’s screen is likely to increase from four inches to 4.7, though, so it’s anything but business as usual.
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