Apple Invents Antennas that could Radiate through an iPhone Display supporting 5G Millimeter Wave Communications
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to wireless communications circuitry, mainly centimeter and millimeter wave transceiver circuitry and display structures.
In February Patently Apple posted a report titled "A new Report Suggests that Apple is in a Quandary over which direction to take for Millimeter Wave Antennas for 5G iPhones," followed by a second report in April titled "Apple's 2020 5G iPhone: Components like Voice Coil Motors for Cameras & mmWave for communications could be in short supply."
While Apple's newly published patent today doesn't address the full issue of delivering a future 5G iPhone with millimeter / mmWave, it does provide us a look at what Apple is working on this key technology for pure 5G connectivity and communications.
Apple notes that it may be desirable to support wireless communications in millimeter wave and centimeter wave communications bands. Millimeter wave communications, which are sometimes referred to as extremely high frequency (EHF) communications, and centimeter wave communications involve communications at frequencies of about 10-300 GHz. Operation at these frequencies may support high bandwidths, but may raise significant challenges. For example, millimeter wave communications signals generated by antennas can be characterized by substantial attenuation and/or distortion during signal propagation through various mediums. In addition, if care is not taken, conductive structures within the electronic device such as conductive structures in a display may block millimeter wave communications in certain directions.
It would therefore be desirable to be able to provide electronic devices with improved wireless communications capabilities for supporting communications at frequencies greater than 10 GHz.
Apple's invention covers an iPhone that is provided with wireless circuitry, and more specifically, include antennas arranged in an array to form a phased array antenna that may include transceiver circuitry such as centimeter and millimeter wave transceiver circuitry (e.g., circuitry that transmits and receives radio-frequency signals at frequencies greater than 10 GHz).
The antennas may include phased array antennas that are used for handling millimeter wave and centimeter wave communications. Millimeter wave communications, which are sometimes referred to as extremely high frequency (EHF) communications, involve signals at 60 GHz or other frequencies between about 30 GHz and 300 GHz.
Centimeter wave communications involve signals at frequencies between about 10 GHz and 30 GHz. If desired, device 10 may also contain wireless communications circuitry for handling satellite navigation system signals, cellular telephone signals, local wireless area network signals, near-field communications, light-based wireless communications, or other wireless communications.
In Apple's patent FIG. 9 below is only a partial image due to a graphics issue noted earlier. FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an illustrative display having a filter that passes radio-frequency signals for a phased array antenna.
Apple's patent FIG. 9 above is view of a display and antenna module showing how the phased array antenna (#60) may be aligned with filter (#140) for covering the hemisphere above the display.
Apple's patent application 20200136234 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q1 2018. You could review more details and patent images of this invention here. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Side Note: Although this patent was posted at 4:11 a.m. PST, our site crashed for several hours. While the site is back, our graphic of FIG. 9 is still not scaled right with Typepad working on this issue.