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Rumors of the iPhone 11 offering Backside Finishes such as Matte and/or Reflective Metal are both Supported by Patents

1 X cover Samsung Aura Glow


There have been a number of rumors about new colors coming to next-gen iPhones on Tuesday. In a Tom's Guide report last month they claimed leaks pointed to Apple adding a dark green color in addition to having a matte finish. Softpedia reported on Friday that the colors of the new iPhone were actually hinted at in the "By Innovation Only," as shown below. It's an esoteric guess at best.


2 JP apple invite colors for phones says one rumor


Today, UK's Mirror posted a report based on the Mobile Fun rumor that Apple would introduce an Aurora-type color iPhone, referring to Samsung's latest Note 10 color as presented as our cover graphic that came from a 9to5Google report titled "Samsung Galaxy Note 10 hands-on: Iteration wrapped in a gorgeous 'Aura' frame."


This kind of multicolored finish changes in color depending on the reflection of the light is on the backside of the phone. PhoneArena goes into depth about the finish on Aura Glow here. The graphic below is from their report.  


3 Aura glow image phone Arena


Whether these rumors about color and finishes actually pan out on Tuesday is anyone's guess, but it must be said that Apple has patents supporting a future glass iPhone back with a matte finish and an alternative finish like the Aura Glow.


In granted patent 20190239348 issued to Apple on August 1, 2019, by the U.S. Patent Office,  Apple describes alternative back side finish like the Aura Glow as follows:


"The rear housing wall may be provided with regions having different appearances. The regions may be selectively textured, may be selectively provided with coatings such as thin-film interference filter coatings formed from stacks of dielectric material having alternating indices of refraction, metal coating layers, and/or ink coating layers, and/or may be provided with other structures that visually distinguish regions from each other."


The patent further notes that the "coatings on the glass layer may be formed from metals, semiconductors, and/or dielectrics. Dielectric materials for the coatings may include organic materials such as polymer layers and/or inorganic materials such as oxide layers, nitride layers, and/or other inorganic dielectric materials.


In arrangements in which a shiny surface is desired, a metal coating with a high reflectivity or a thin-film interference filter with dielectric layers (e.g., a stack of dielectric layers of alternating higher and lower refractive index values) may be configured to serve as a mirror coating (reflective coating). Ink coatings may also be incorporated onto the glass structures."


This kind of backside finish wasn't a Samsung invention as it was first introduced by Huawei and their Honor brand and has since been copied by other Chinese OEMs and Samsung.


Before there were rumors from gurus, there was Patently Apple's patent report back in late January titled "Apple may Add Textured Glass to the Back Side of Next-Gen iPhones with Possible Graphical Patterns." In this report we noted the following:


"In a second patent application on this invention, Apple notes that "A region of the rear housing wall may have a matte appearance formed from a textured surface. Textured surfaces may be formed directly on the glass layer and/or textured surfaces may be formed on thin glass layers and polymer films that are coupled to the glass layer." That patent was granted to Apple in May 2019 that we covered here.


3 textured backside finish


Apple's patent FIG. 1 above is a perspective view of an iPhone; FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative glass layer with an embedded textured region.


Apple originally filed their patent on different finishes back in Q2 2018 before they were made public earlier this year. Filed before Huawei introduced this kind of finish in October 2018.


Once again, the new iPhone finishes are rumors that may or may not actually come to be on Tuesday. However, whether they come to market this week or next year, you at least now know that Apple has multiple patents covering such developments.  


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