Rumor: 'iPhone 7' might be waterproof, feature newly designed non-metal chassis

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited October 2015
A set of rumors out of the Far East on Sunday claims Apple is well into the prototyping phase of its next-generation handset, with current test models incorporating a waterproof design that could be applied to a non-metal frame.




Citing a post from Chinese microblogging site Weibo, Mac Otakara reports prototype "iPhone 7" units are being produced with waterproof and dust-proof features, suggesting Apple is investigating a more "ruggedized" handset.

While specifics go unmentioned, Apple could be exploring methods of transplanting technology from Apple Watch, a device specifically designed to accommodate active lifestyles. For example, iPhone 7 might sport an encapsulated system-on-chip processor and water-tight gaskets. More exotic solutions include applying hydrophobic coatings to sensitive electrical components via a vapor deposition process, or integrating silicone seals at water ingress points, according to patent filings.

In addition, the Weibo post claims iPhone 7 will move away from the familiar all-aluminum chassis, a design first introduced in 2012 with iPhone 5. Apple's first handsets were aluminum, while second-generation versions integrated a tough polycarbonate shell. The format later evolved into the glass-backed iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s, then back to aluminum in iPhone 5 through iPhone 6s.

As the handset grew in size to accommodate 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens, however, an all-aluminum construction appeared to negatively impact structural stability. Some iPhone 6 Plus owners complained that their new smartphones were easily bent under normal use, prompting Apple to shift to more durable 7000 series aluminum in the latest iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, a rare mid-cycle material change.

Finally, Mac Otakara cites its own sources as saying Apple's next-gen iPhone will adopt a "completely flat" LCD display, which is assumed to be in reference to the handset's cover glass. While all iPhone models incorporated flat LCD arrays, iPhone 6 introduced a protective cover glass with curved edges for facilitating swipe gestures from off-screen.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,512member
    LCD would be odd with what Ive said about OLED displays.
  • Reply 2 of 40

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    ... In addition, the Weibo post claims iPhone 7 will move away from the familiar all-aluminum chassis ...

     

    On August 7, 2006, Apple filed for a patent on zirconium dioxide enclosures for consumer electronics devices.  It's radio-transparent, and it's apparently extremely durable.

     

    Older reposts of the Wikipedia article on zirconium dioxide included a paragraph about the Apple patent.  The current version of the article doesn't.

     

    http://www.chemeurope.com/en/encyclopedia/Zirconium_dioxide.html

     

    But how much would the material cost?  Is it recyclable?  How damage-resistant is it?  Is it practical to use zirconium dioxide in a device sold by the millions?  Who knows?

  • Reply 3 of 40
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    Rumor surfaces AFTER a few safe-bet facts are revealed.

    Typical rumor.

  • Reply 4 of 40

    As long as the case is smaller, I'm a buyer.

  • Reply 5 of 40
    I'll buy the next 4" iPhone. Until then, my 5S will remain in service.
  • Reply 6 of 40
    sennensennen Posts: 1,468member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cali View Post



    Rumor surfaces AFTER a few safe bet facts are revealed.



    Typical rumor.






    First thing that I thought as well.

  • Reply 7 of 40
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,512member
    sockrolid wrote: »
    On August 7, 2006, Apple filed for a patent on zirconium dioxide enclosures for consumer electronics devices.  It's radio-transparent, and it's apparently extremely durable.

    Older reposts of the Wikipedia article on zirconium dioxide included a paragraph about the Apple patent.  The current version of the article doesn't.

    http://www.chemeurope.com/en/encyclopedia/Zirconium_dioxide.html

    But how much would the material cost?  Is it recyclable?  How damage-resistant is it?  Is it practical to use zirconium dioxide in a device sold by the millions?  Who knows?
    Interesting. Here is the article :
    http://appleinsider.com/articles/06/11/30/apple_seeks_patent_on_radio_transparent_zirconia_ce_casings

    Apple used Zirconia for the Apple Watch.
  • Reply 8 of 40

    Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post



    Interesting. Here is the article :

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/06/11/30/apple_seeks_patent_on_radio_transparent_zirconia_ce_casings



    Apple used Zirconia for the Apple Watch.

     

    Thanks.  I forgot to include the AI article.

     

    In the ?Watch, the back cover is just a transparent window to allow for pulse sensing etc.

    But I wonder if Apple really will make an entire iPhone enclosure of the material.

  • Reply 9 of 40
    The first iPhones were aluminum not polycarbonate. It wasn't till the second iPhone (3G) that they used the polycarbonate rear shell.
  • Reply 10 of 40
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mcarling View Post



    I'll buy the next 4" iPhone. Until then, my 5S will remain in service.

    A few months ago I got a new iPhone 5c 16gb.  It has the non Al plastic case.

    Good gosh, another non Al case  iPhone coming to keep it company !   :)

  • Reply 11 of 40
    Finally, some long-overdue iPhone 7 rumors—too bad the new materials will lead to supply constraints at launch¡

    C'mon, you know you were all thinking the same thing.
  • Reply 12 of 40
    19831983 Posts: 1,225member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post





    Interesting. Here is the article :

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/06/11/30/apple_seeks_patent_on_radio_transparent_zirconia_ce_casings



    Apple used Zirconia for the Apple Watch.



    Just read the article...interesting. Its also from 2006! Before even the first-gen iPhone was released. So Apple has had this patent for a while now. Which could mean something viable for mass-production as a complete casing might of had enough time to be developed. The only potential problem here is that even though the material is extremely strong and almost scratch resistant, being a ceramic its still brittle, which could mean if you drop your new ceramic iPhone it might shatter. A solution for this in the patent is to coat the outside of the casing in silicon or other rubberised material, but I don't think that's a very elegant solution. I'm actually still hoping that maybe they've cracked Liquidmetal mass production and that's what the iPhone 7 will be constructed from...super strong and RF transparent but not brittle, that could be the non-aluminium material rumoured.

  • Reply 13 of 40
    mauijoe wrote: »
    The first iPhones were aluminum not polycarbonate. It wasn't till the second iPhone (3G) that they used the polycarbonate rear shell.

    Here's a good (albeit controversial website) that has a good history including HR photos of the original iPhone through iPhone 6.

    http://www.theverge.com/2014/9/9/6125849/iphone-history-pictures
  • Reply 14 of 40
    Also... just for fun I thought I'd drop this little note and article here from Ars:

    Android finally has a secure phone... and guess where it's getting it's security from?

    [SIZE=4][URL=http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/09/paranoid-android-redux-going-dark-with-silent-circles-blackphone-2/]Paranoid Android redux: “going dark” with Silent Circle’s Blackphone 2[/URL][/SIZE]
    Latest edition of Phil Zimmerman's favorite phone brings privacy with less pain.


    Silent Circle—founded by Phil Zimmerman (creator of PGP), former Entrust [B][COLOR=red]chief technology officer John Calas (the man behind much of the security in Mac OS X and iOS)[/COLOR][/B], and former Navy SEAL and security entrepreneur Mike Janke—bought out Geeksphone and absorbed the joint venture. The company hired a new CEO (former Entrust CEO and Nortel president Bill Conner), renamed and rebuilt its Android-based operating system, upgraded the infrastructure of its encrypted voice and text communications network, and built an entirely new hardware platform based on a somewhat more industry-standard chipset. All of that has led the team towards Blackphone 2. Today, Silent Circle begins shipping its new flagship (and only) handset; and Ars once again got early access to put it through the usability and security wringer.
  • Reply 15 of 40
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,603member
    cali wrote: »
    Rumor surfaces AFTER a few safe-bet facts are revealed.

    Typical rumor.


    They should test it in soda or some other syrupy drink rather than water as it causes damage faster than plain water. Previous models have been tested in plain water and last long enough to make it look like they provide water resistance but later fail I would suggest that this is the case with the 6S.
  • Reply 16 of 40
    irelandireland Posts: 17,771member

    Could be non-metal. Could be waterproof.

     

    So you're saying this journalism cannot be wrong. Interesting.

  • Reply 17 of 40
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,865member

     

     



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MauiJoe View Post



    The first iPhones were aluminum not polycarbonate. It wasn't till the second iPhone (3G) that they used the polycarbonate rear shell.


     


     

    From the article:

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Apple's first handsets were aluminum, while second-generation versions integrated a tough polycarbonate shell. The format later evolved into the glass-backed iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s, then back to aluminum in iPhone 5 through iPhone 6s.

     

  • Reply 18 of 40
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,121member
    clemynx wrote: »
    Interesting. Here is the article :
    http://appleinsider.com/articles/06/11/30/apple_seeks_patent_on_radio_transparent_zirconia_ce_casings

    Apple used Zirconia for the Apple Watch.

    But only for the rear portion that holds the sensors, and not for the less expensive sports model.

    This material is pretty expensive, so using it for an entire phone chassis would cost an awful lot.
  • Reply 19 of 40
    melgross wrote: »
    But only for the rear portion that holds the sensors, and not for the less expensive sports model.

    This material is pretty expensive, so using it for an entire phone chassis would cost an awful lot.

    CNC machining of aluminum blocks into enclosures isn't cheap for most people either. It's possible mass production on an Apple scale might drop the price to something more reasonable.
  • Reply 20 of 40
    roakeroake Posts: 775member
    mcarling wrote: »
    I'll buy the next 4" iPhone. Until then, my 5S will remain in service.

    And I'm starting a dodo farm.
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