Apple granted ownership of iPhone steel bezel design

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for the design of the iconic "cold worked" stainless steel bezel seen on the iPhone.



Originally applied for on July 10, 2008, U.S. Patent No. 7,688,574, entitled "Cold Worked Metal Housing for a Portable Electronic Device," was formally granted on Tuesday. The design is credited to Stephen P. Zadesky, Philip M. Hobson and Tang Yew Tan.



The patent notes that the cold worked stainless steel manufacturing process employed with the iPhone bezel makes it hard and resistant to impacts.



"Cold worked steel also facilitates manufacturing within design constraints and tolerances, and requires very little machining after manufacturing to comply with those restraints," the patent reads.



The invention credited to Apple describes a bezel flush to a housing to form the case of a portable electronics device. The wall of the bezel is inserted into the slot of the brace and is held by a spring that engages both the brace and the wall. The bezel can be removed by disengaging the spring, which can be done with a special tool or magnetic field.



The document notes that portable electronic devices, like phones and MP3 players, are subject to physical impacts that static devices, like a desktop computer or television, are not. Devices like the iPhone and iPod touch need strong cases that can impact the resistance the device will inevitably experience.



"Existing cases, however, are not always easily manufactured, aesthetically pleasing, or sufficiently resistant to impacts," the patent reads. "Accordingly, there is a need for a hard, easily manufactured and aesthetically pleasing case for portable electronic devices."







Though the bezel is now iconic, it may not last in future iterations of the iPhone. In February, sources told AppleInsider that the next-generation iPhone was photographed with an iPad. The iPhone appeared to lack the device's aluminum bezel and was surrounded by black plastic, although it's possible the pictured handset was simply wrapped with a rubberized protective holder.



Also in February, purported fourth-generation iPhone parts showed a largely unchanged design, with a front panel slightly taller than the current model. The alleged iPhone part also included a reflective surface directly above the speaker, which was said to be a different location for the handset's proximity sensor.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70
    asianbobasianbob Posts: 797member
    Did they seriously give a patent out for just bending (pretty much what cold-working is) steel for a electronic device?!



    The patent system is getting ridiculous...
  • Reply 2 of 70
    aizmovaizmov Posts: 987member
    I'd rather see the metal bezel go. I liked the look of the 1st gen iPod touch.
  • Reply 3 of 70
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,741member
    From the article, it seems like a precise patent.
  • Reply 4 of 70
    mrkoolaidmrkoolaid Posts: 106member
    Nothing beats hearing Apple getting yet another well deserved patent. Let the competition in as much so even try to copy iPhone.
  • Reply 5 of 70
    zindakozindako Posts: 468member
    This was a very specific and detailed patent, there is nothing wrong with it. Lets see how many companies will attempt to copy the physical appearance of the iPhone and get spanked for it.
  • Reply 6 of 70
    chronsterchronster Posts: 1,894member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrkoolaid View Post


    Nothing beats hearing Apple getting yet another well deserved patent. May the competition in as much so even try to copy the iPhone.



    really nothing beats it? Perhaps a good BLT, a fun roller coaster, or getting LAID seemed to have slipped your mind when you wrote that...



    jk, but seriously, this is good news. Since everyone just copies Apple, other manufacturers will follow and start making sturdier products.
  • Reply 7 of 70
    asianbobasianbob Posts: 797member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    From the article, it seems like a precise patent.



    Like a fashion design, yes. But just the fact that it's really a patent to bend metal is what gets me.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrkoolaid View Post


    Nothing beats hearing Apple getting yet another well deserved patent. Let the competition in as much so even try to copy iPhone.



    Why try? There's plenty of ways to create a phone without using this bezel design. Plenty of other plastics, metals, and composites out there that designers can use.
  • Reply 8 of 70
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,741member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AsianBob View Post


    Like a fashion design, yes. But just the fact that it's really a patent to bend metal is what gets me.



    The invention credited to Apple describes a bezel flush to a housing to form the case of a portable electronics device. The wall of the bezel is inserted into the slot of the brace and is held by a spring that engages both the brace and the wall. The bezel can be removed by disengaging the spring, which can be done with a special tool or magnetic field.



    Seems to be a bit more involved than just bending metal.
  • Reply 9 of 70
    asianbobasianbob Posts: 797member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    The invention credited to Apple describes a bezel flush to a housing to form the case of a portable electronics device. The wall of the bezel is inserted into the slot of the brace and is held by a spring that engages both the brace and the wall. The bezel can be removed by disengaging the spring, which can be done with a special tool or magnetic field.



    Seems to be a bit more involved than just bending metal.



    I'd really have to see the pictures that go along with this patent. At first read, it seems like that is just the process Apple uses to shape the bezel to the iPhone case itself.



    Which is still essentially bending metal to conform to a shape.
  • Reply 10 of 70
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,064member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AsianBob View Post


    Did they seriously give a patent out for just bending (pretty much what cold-working is) aluminum for a electronic device?!



    The patent system is getting ridiculous...



    First of all, you might have noticed that it's stainless steel that they're talking about. Not the aluminum bezel that covers it.



    And yes, patents are allowed for manufacturing and process. It's always been that way.
  • Reply 11 of 70
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AsianBob View Post


    Did they seriously give a patent out for just bending (pretty much what cold-working is) aluminum for a electronic device?!



    The patent system is getting ridiculous...



    Apple is an innovative powerhouse. Their cold worked bezel is revolutionary, and without a patent, everybody else would just copy it!
  • Reply 12 of 70
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,064member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AsianBob View Post


    Like a fashion design, yes. But just the fact that it's really a patent to bend metal is what gets me.



    May I ask what your experience in metal fabrication is? Do you know the industry well, or are you just "feeling" that this shouldn't be allowed? I've done a lot of work in that area. Patent have been given for these factors going back to the very earliest days.



    Quote:

    Why try? There's plenty of ways to create a phone without using this bezel design. Plenty of other plastics, metals, and composites out there that designers can use.



    The iPhone has a pretty good reputation as a well made, sturdy phone. When you read the reviews of other smartphones, that's one thing almost all of the phones are compared to, and so far, none has measured up.



    What you will read is that a phone is well made, "almost as well as the iPhone". Or you will read that " This is no iPhone in quality", etc.



    There must be some reason for that.
  • Reply 13 of 70
    emulatoremulator Posts: 251member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleRulez View Post


    Apple is an innovative powerhouse. Their cold worked bezel is revolutionary, and without a patent, everybody else would just copy it!



    Yet no one else can put on the Apple logo and that is the selling point.
  • Reply 14 of 70
    asianbobasianbob Posts: 797member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    First of all, you might have noticed that it's stainless steel that they're talking about. Not the aluminum bezel that covers it.



    And yes, patents are allowed for manufacturing and process. It's always been that way.



    Yes, I just noticed that I mistyped aluminum. Corrected now.



    While it does technically fall under the manufacturing and processes category, I'm still a bit amazed. Most of the patents I've seen from our company have a "reason" behind it that improves something.



    While you can argue that the reason here is to increase strength (as stated in the patent wording), it feels to me the spirit of the patent is more to guard against the "look" of the iPhone after the steel is bent.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleRulez View Post


    Apple is an innovative powerhouse. Their cold worked bezel is revolutionary, and without a patent, everybody else would just copy it!



    FYI, cold-working steel is nothing new in the world. Cold-work means to bend without heating the metal up.
  • Reply 15 of 70
    woodewoode Posts: 67member
  • Reply 16 of 70
    timmydaxtimmydax Posts: 284member
    Looks to be as much if not more the construction of the case than the aesthetics of the bezel? more secret hardware improvements from apple (3d barcodes?) to improve their ease of manufacture and repair as much as protect their brand identity
  • Reply 17 of 70
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    The iPhone has a pretty good reputation as a well made, sturdy phone.



    thanks, I didn't LOL for a long time.

    remember the hairline cracks in the iphone casing?

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=2321



    Or what about the screen? scratches pretty fast.



    the Droid i think, for example uses Gorilla Glass, which is quite more sturdy than the iPhones.

    http://gizmodo.com/5443146/gorilla-g...on-unbreakable



    I wouldn't call the iPhone a "well made, sturdy phone".

    well designed? yes definatelly.

    materials that look good on paper? for the 1gen yes (aluminum, glass, chrome).



    but sturdy? not really
  • Reply 18 of 70
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    The invention credited to Apple describes a bezel flush to a housing to form the case of a portable electronics device. The wall of the bezel is inserted into the slot of the brace and is held by a spring that engages both the brace and the wall. The bezel can be removed by disengaging the spring, which can be done with a special tool or magnetic field.



    Seems to be a bit more involved than just bending metal.



    Someone once got that special tool in the mail by mistake. It was a paper clip.



    http://gizmodo.com/photogallery/offi...netool/2302578
  • Reply 19 of 70
    asianbobasianbob Posts: 797member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    May I ask what your experience in metal fabrication is? Do you know the industry well, or are you just "feeling" that this shouldn't be allowed? I've done a lot of work in that area. Patent have been given for these factors going back to the very earliest days.



    I'm not saying this shouldn't been allowed. I'm just a bit surprised that a patent to bend steel into the shape of a rectangular loop was put forth and passed. I'm going off of what's written in the article at the moment. If the patent itself is made available and there's a more intricate process than what it seems like, then that's all fine.



    While I'm not a metal fabricator personally, I'm an engineer for Sikorsky, where we do a lot of metal and composites work in-house. Plenty of Process/Manufacturing Engineers to go around.



    Quote:

    The iPhone has a pretty good reputation as a well made, sturdy phone. When you read the reviews of other smartphones, that's one thing almost all of the phones are compared to, and so far, none has measured up.



    What you will read is that a phone is well made, "almost as well as the iPhone". Or you will read that " This is no iPhone in quality", etc.



    There must be some reason for that.



    But that doesn't mean a cold-worked bezel is the only way to make it sturdy. I can argue that the DROID I hold in my hand easily measures up to an iPhone in toughness. I've had it knocked from my hand sitting down and standing up (a 6 foot drop) and I just picked it up and carried on.



    I used to have a Storm (I know, I know, go ahead and make fun of me) which I've dropped onto concrete multiple times with no issues. I carry both without screen protectors in my pockets all the time and I have still yet to find a scratch.
  • Reply 20 of 70
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by extremeskater View Post


    Someone once got that special tool in the mail by mistake. It was a paper clip.



    http://gizmodo.com/photogallery/offi...netool/2302578



    That's not just any paper clip. It was a paper clip designed in California and made in China. Using anything else devalues the iDevice.
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