Future iPhones and cellular iPads may have new technology to hide the antenna gap in the case. This ranges from the strategic use of different materials to a simple, thin layer of dye that mimics the housing material.
One of the design problems with iPhones and iPads is creating a version that can effectively handle electromagnetic waves, signals that are generated and received by antennas in the mobile devices. In order for the antenna to do its job either materials must be used to prevent blocking of a signal or there must be an opening through the housing to the outside world.
Antenna design is tricky, especially considering how Apple designs and builds its products. For iPads, the back of the case is made from a single piece of metal that does not provide a passage through a hole or gap, nor uses materials that minimize the impact on the antenna signal.
One way to fix the problem is to use a two-piece housing that introduces a gap around the antennas to allow the signal to pass through. However, such concepts can introduce other design problems, e.g. B. Eliminating the appearance of a single seamless enclosure and weakening the overall structure.
An example of this is the further development of Apple's iPad designs. Depending on the variant, the rear housing can be made from a single piece of material, while the 2020 iPad has a significantly different area above for its cellular models.
In a patent granted to Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday entitled "Multi-Part Enclosure for Electronic Devices with Contiguous Filled Surface," Apple proposes creating an enclosure that offers the electromagnetic advantages of a two-piece enclosure, however, it is made so that it appears as a single part.
Apple's case idea includes three elements, namely most of the main case with a cavity section to be filled, a second case part to fill the section and ink. In short, Apple suggests that a layer of ink could be deposited at the point of connection to cover it completely.
While the main housing can still be made of metal, the secondary part can be a non-conductive component that does not interfere with electromagnetic waves, such as e.g. B. a dense plastic. The second housing part could possibly be made up of multiple layers, including an outer layer chosen for cosmetic or structural purposes.
Another variation is to have an additional insert that can fit between the main and secondary housing parts. The insert mounted on the inside between the two elements could maintain the presence of a gap while holding the two sections together and could be made of a material that better permits radio transmissions.
Regardless of construction, Apple recommends using two coats of ink to cover the joint. The use of two layers of ink ensures that the seam is completely hidden by the cover.
The first layer of ink is intended to fill and level the seam between the two components as a filler layer. After applying and curing and removing unwanted portions from the case to make everything flat, a second layer of ink is deposited to hide the joint itself.
Filling the void primarily minimizes the appearance of the connection, making the appearance of the second layer of ink much more seamless.
The patent was filed on March 16, 2020 and lists its inventors as Ming Kun Shi, Lindsay D. Corbet, Christopher Bruni, and Collin D. Chan.
Apple files numerous patent applications every week. While the existence of a patent application indicates areas of interest to Apple's research and development efforts, it does not guarantee that the idea will appear in any future product or service.
This is just one of many ideas Apple is bringing to the table to change the design of its products for both aesthetic and practical reasons. Previously, an iPhone with an all-glass wrap-around display and a version of the iMac made from a single pane of glass were proposed.