With Ceramic Shield protecting the iPhone 12 range it’s clear that Apple is interested in toughening up its smartphones, and a patent has revealed a new technique it might start using to further improve their durability.
Dubbed ‘Insert molding around glass members for portable electronic devices’ and spotted by Apple Insider, the patent filed with the USPTO details a glass structure that could sit between the screen and the frame of an iPhone, improving the structural strength of the device without adding any thickness.
The patent notes that it could provide extra protection against bumps, and as it can do so without thickening the display glass, future iPhone screens could potentially get away with being thinner than they are now, allowing for slightly slimmer devices. Alternatively, the screens might maintain their current thickness and add this structure for even more protection.
The patent posits that this structure could be molded in such a way that there wouldn’t be any visible join between the screen glass and this additional structure, for a seamless design.
As ever with patents, it’s worth noting that we might not see this used soon, if at all. Certainly, with this patent only recently having been granted we wouldn’t expect to see this feature on the iPhone 13 range, but its appearance in the iPhone 14 or later is a possibility.
Or maybe it won’t be used at all, but even if it’s not, this is evidence that Apple is exploring ways to further increase the durability of iPhones, and that’s good news.
These are very expensive handsets, but they get many years of software updates so they’re already designed to last on that front. If the hardware can be made just as long-lasting then it will take some of the sting out of the purchase price.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.