Apple has been granted a patent for technology that will allow the company to build smartphones and mobile devices such as tablets, that are resistant to scratches and abrasion. Most smartphones today, including recent iPhone models, feature rear panels that are made out of plastic or glass, with a metal or plastic frame. These materials offer varying levels of durability, scratch resistance, and electromagnetic shielding. Apple’s newly granted patent could lead to the creation of a new material that combines metal and ceramic that is resistant to abrasion.
A new patent for “Spatial Composites” was granted (via Patently Apple) to the Cupertino company by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on June 13. The patent describes the use of abrasion-resistant materials that could be incorporated into the chassis of an iPhone to make it more durable. US patent number 11,678,445 B2 lists Apple engineers Christopher Prest, Stephen Lynch, and Teodor Dabov as the inventors of the technology.
In the patent, the company explains that the various materials used to build devices offer varying levels of strength, resistance to abrasion, and electromagnetic shielding. While a phone chassis made of plastic would be very durable, it is highly prone to scratches. Metal is more likely to interfere with radio connectivity than other materials, despite being resistant to both scratches and breaking. Finally, ceramics do not have the same issue with radio signals, but are not as durable as the other two materials.
Instead, Apple’s patent proposes mixing ceramics and metal to create a new scratch-resistant material by placing these materials in a substrate that could comprise a mouldable matrix with these materials located between 10 and 100 microns apart, according to the details mentioned in the patent.
In recent years, Apple has improved the durability of the primary displays on the iPhone, using its Ceramic Shield technology that is claimed to make the screen more resistant to damage when the device is dropped. Users who wish to protect the glass rear panel from scratches, will still need to use a protective case or a skin.
However, there’s no word on whether the company plans to use the technology in the patent in any of its iPhone models in the future. The addition of a scratch resistant material to the rear panel suggests that users might be able to use their iPhone without a cover or case that is typically used to protect a smartphone from scratches and drops.