With Apple's 2017 anniversary iPhone rumored to include a glass embodiment the recent rash of patents relating such a form factor is uncanny. In a report titled "The Joke of the Week: Apple is going to Copy Samsung's Edge Smartphone Design," we pointed out Apple's long standing patents regarding a smartphone with rounded edges and new form factors that have yet come to life. Then on August 30, Apple won a patent for one of the new form factors that could be constructed using liquid metal which is a form of super strength glass. On September 1, Apple filed a patent application tweaking another glass smartphone with rounded edges as noted in our cover graphic with the phone icon clear presented on the design. Today, Apple was granted another patent that indeed covers a glass encased smartphone.
Granted Patent: Glass Enclosure
Apple's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to systems, methods, and apparatus for providing an enclosure suitable for a portable computing device. In particular, at least portions of the enclosure can be transparent or at least translucent and as such can be formed of materials such as glass. It will be understood that the enclosure can be formed of glass but does not need to have any transparent portion. In other words, the entire glass enclosure can be opaque. In other embodiments, the glass enclosure can be fully transparent or partially transparent or translucent.
To clarify that the invention covers a smartphone, Claim number four states: "The portable computing device as recited in claim 3, wherein the handheld computing device is a mobile phone."
Apple's patent FIG. 14A illustrates a top plan view and perspective view of a glass band; FIG. 21 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a glass enclosure made by a deep drawn blow molding process; FIG. 23 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a glass main body having textured portions for use as light indicators; FIG. 24 is a perspective view of a method of sealing of the interior of a glass enclosure to achieve a thicker surface layer in compression in a chemical strengthening process in accordance with an embodiment.
Apple's granted patent is a utility patent and not a design patent, so the designs presented above are only to convey concepts covered in the patent and not the design itself. So don't get hung up on the design. Whatever Apple launches will something very cool.
Apple's granted patent 9,439,305 was filed in Q3 2014 with references back to 2010 and 2011. One of the inventors Christopher Prest has also been a key engineer working on Apple's liquid metal team. Here's one example.
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