Apple looks to be mulling some cosmetic surgery for the next iPhone. Those unsightly lines running across the backs of iPhones could disappear with the follow up to the iPhone 6, if Apple is granted a patent for "non-capacitive or radio frequency transparent materials with anodized metal appearance."
In the patent, Apple is looking to protect an idea that would use conductive and non-conductive materials, that look like metal, to cover up the two bare strips running across the back of iPhones.
"One design challenge associated with computing devices is maintaining a sleek and consistent appearance of a metallic outer enclosure for housing the various complex internal components," Apple explains in the patent application.
The iPhone's radio antennas are embedded beneath those two strips -- and that's been the case with the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and iPhone 6. Those areas of the iPhone are left bear in order to avoid diminishing signal quality for both inbound and outbound transmissions.
"Since metal is not radio frequency transparent, metal is generally a poor choice of material when the devices utilize electromagnetic wave transmission, such as radio frequency transmission for communication," says Apple.
So now Apple is mulling a number of approaches to to lower the profile of the antennas and elevate the aesthetics of the iPhone. Some approaches entails using a metal oxide layer and combining it with a non-capacitive layer, others involve using imitiation metal oxide and others, still, call for the use of an "optically reflective coating" on top of a material that looks like anodized metal.
Beyond giving the iPhone the flush look Apple is after, the methods and materials described in the patent could be applied to other products. The ideas described in the patent could also be applied to touch-sensitive surfaces, including trackpads on laptops and touch screen on mobile devices.
"The anodized metal appearing composite structures can cover electronic components, such as capacitive touch sensors, touch pads and RF windows, without interfering with the operation of the electronic components," states Apple in the patent application. "The anodized metal appearing composite structures can be formed adjacent to anodized metal portions of a part giving the part a continuous metal appearance."
For now, the patent application is just that. It's an application. Even if it is approved by the US Patent and Trademakr Office, Apple may find another way to get rid of those unsightly lines.