If you were angry when Apple removed the headphone jack in the iPhone 7, well, you might want to look away for a little while. A newly surfaced patent from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows an iPhone with a completely glass body, complete with a seamless wraparound display — but absolutely no ports or buttons.
The patent describes the device as an electronic device with a “six-sided glass enclosure” which includes “a touchscreen display within the interior volume” and “at least a portion of each of the six sides” — meaning Apple is considering having the touchscreen extend down the sides of the display. Images included with the patent suggest this could be used to show elements like the battery level and notifications, but could also be used to replace the traditional power and volume keys. It’s possible Apple could end up using tech similar to HTC’s Edge Sense and Google’s Active Edge, which allow you to issue commands by squeezing your phone. It’s not currently known how glass would react to such squeezes.
Of course, buttons are one thing, but removing the charging port is something else entirely. By removing the charging port, this iPhone would be completely dependent on wireless methods to achieve the same aims. That means it would only be able to be charged on a wireless charging pad, and could only connect to headphones through Bluetooth. However, it would also mean the end of plugging an iPhone into a Mac or PC through the USB port — so it’s fair to assume Apple would make some strides to enhance the user experience in those areas.
It isn’t the first time we’ve heard about a port-less iPhone. A report from TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in December 2019 predicted an iPhone without any ports. However, we wouldn’t be seeing this potentially game-changing iPhone until 2021 at the earliest, so don’t expect to see it in the iPhone 12 range expected to release later in 2020. It’s also worth pointing out that this patent has been filed for some time, having been submitted on August 15, 2019, so Apple has clearly been working on this for a while.
So will we be seeing a port-less iPhone in the next couple of years? It’s not hard to imagine, as Digital Trends’ Andy Boxall points out. While something of a failure, HTC replaced physical buttons with digital in the HTC U12 Plus, and Vivo has previously shown off an Apex 2019 concept phone without ports, both proving the concepts Apple is striving for are possible. Knowing Apple, it won’t proceed unless it is sure the idea will work though, so don’t expect it to rush the design out before it’s ready.
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