Engadget: Apple invented a material that hides your iPhone’s antenna lines

And so while the iPhone 6 design is unquestionably sleek, one can not help but notice that there are two strips of plastic adorning the back of the device.

Antenna lines on the iPhone5, 5S, 6 and 6 Plus haven’t exactly been a reason to rejoice for proud Apple owners, and now Apple seems to have taken a bold move in order to eradicate this disgruntlement.

But always looking to push the envelope, BusinessInsider points us to a new patent application from Apple detailing a new composite metal which retains the appearance of Apple’s long-favored anodized aluminum while simultaneously enabling radio signals to enter and exit easily.

The idea would be to give a device like an iPhone a fully metallic look without affecting the phone’s cellular performance. Computing devices can also include any of a number of complex functional components. Mobile phones and tables have radio frequency antennas that allow communication via radio frequency transmission. Some embodiments involve forming an imitation metal oxide layer and depositing a non-capacitive layer on the imitation metal oxide layer. Accordingly, portions of the housings that cover antennas and touch sensors are made of a non-metallic material such as plastic or glass. If the materials are even slightly less transparent than plastic housings, it could result in a significant drop in signal quality. This visible break can detract from the smooth and continuous look of the metallic housing. Still, it beats the antenna system that was employed on the Apple iPhone 4 which spawned Antennagate.

The United States patent (#20150167193) outlines the predicament faced by Apple and other device makers: “Many computing devices have outer housings and coverings that include metallic surfaces giving the devices an aesthetically pleasing and durable look and feel”, but metal is not RF-transparent and is usually highly capacitive.

Of course, Apple isn’t shy when it comes to filing patents, and there’s no telling whether this particular batch of wizardry will ever actually show up in production devices. It would be rather interesting to watch how Apple goes forward and refine it’s already industry successful product designs. Some embodiments involve forming a metal oxide layer and depositing a non-capacitive layer on the metal oxide layer.


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