If you’re a fan of the Apple Watch Edition in its ceramic finish, there could be good news on the horizon. It comes in the form of a new patent that specifies a Zirconia-based ceramic material that could be used in future Watch models. Even more intriguingly, it could be used for the iPhone as well.
The patent is called “Electronic Devices with Textured Zirconia-Based Components” and promises a matte finish. It says it can give “a matte appearance to an exterior surface of an electronic device. The texture of the enclosure component may also be configured so that it has one or more tactile properties suitable for use as a wearable device and can be readily cleaned.” It can also be configured to “provide a particular “feel” to the electronic device” and “may be configured so that the zirconia-based component substantially retains its strength and impact resistance.” Although it doesn’t give full details of the material, it specifies that “The zirconia-based component may be formed of a ceramic such as a partially stabilized zirconia ceramic or an alumina toughened zirconia ceramic.”
It could be used as a side surface (such as the case that wraps around the display on an Apple Watch, it seems) or a rear cover for another device. The images suggest that the rear of an iPhone is the focus here and Apple could use this material instead of the toughened glass currently on the back of its phones. Additionally, the matte finish suggests that it could be used for the Pro models in the iPhone range, as the main part of the back of the phone is matte-finish and only the camera panel is gloss.
The image in the patent even shows a central circular panel, perhaps to indicate that the Apple logo would be located there (and would doubtless be as shiny as it is on current phones).
Ceramic has been used on mobile phones before including handsets from Xiaomi and Samsung. It’s a material usually reserved for high-end devices, but has never been used for the iPhone.
As with all patents, there’s no certainty that Apple will implement such a design change soon or even at all. But the prospects of a ceramic iPhone and another ceramic Apple Watch are intriguing.