Future iPhones could get super-tough glass that makes cases obsolete

Cracked iPhone side-by-side with a fixed iPhone
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Niki Khun)

Apple’s newest iPhones are among the best phones out there for durability, but you’ll still be hard-pressed to find an iPhone user who doesn’t keep their beloved device wrapped up in a protective case at all times.

That could change in the coming years, though. As spotted by TechRadar’s sister site Creative Bloq, Apple has just been granted a patent for a new type of super-resistant iPhone housing that could make its way onto future generations of the best iPhones.

The patent – simply titled Spatial Composites – details a rear glass panel made up of “abrasion-resistant” elements that would seemingly better protect your iPhone against scuffs, scratches and grazes (or, in other words, abrasion).

As Creative Bloq notes, the patent explains the drawbacks of current solutions for preventing abrasion on mobile devices. Metal housing materials, for instance, may be strong but create undesirable electromagnetic shielding, while plastic is less scratch or abrasion-resistant.

A diagram from an Apple patent application

Future iPhones could feature super-durable rear panels (Image credit: Apple)

It seems, then, that Apple is working on a new iPhone material that boasts favorable electromagnetic properties and superior scratch-resistance, though we’d advise against getting your hopes up about seeing it feature on new iPhones any time soon.

Patent applications represent the earliest stage of an idea’s development, and this example may simply be a case of Apple looking to prevent other manufacturers from implementing similar technology on their own upcoming devices.

That said, rumors do suggest that Apple has durability at the forefront of its mind for the imminent iPhone 15 series – particularly with regards to the much-rumored iPhone 15 Ultra. Serial leaker LeaksApplePro predicts that the iPhone 15 Ultra will be clad in titanium, which is typically stronger and lighter than the stainless steel used by the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

It won’t be long before Apple has backed itself into a corner on the innovation front, too. There’s only so many times you can tout improved performance and camera credentials as key selling points for a new iPhone – Apple may soon be forced to market durability as the flagship feature of future models, and this in-development abrasion-resistant material could prove crucial to that strategy.

In any case, if you’re looking to better protect the iPhone you own right now, check out our guides to the best iPhone 13 cases, best iPhone 13 Pro cases, best iPhone 14 cases and best iPhone 14 Pro cases.

Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.