Apple patent ceramic body (image 001)

We are getting more hints at how Apple could create a cheaper iPhone, a device also dubbed by the press the iPhone mini and apparently meant to improve Apple’s standing in emerging markets such as India. In a new patent filing, the iPhone maker describes a production method similar to laminated fiberglass, but using ceramics. Zirconia and alumina could be combined to create a new kind of Unibody shell.

The use of zirconia would mesh both with a report earlier this month that a low-cost iPhone could include a fiberglass housing, while also potentially drawing on a 2006 Apple patent regarding zirconia as being radio transparent…

Apple’s patent filing describes ceramics as a “suitable material for an enclosure of an electronic device capable of wireless communications.”

A laminated ceramic housing could feature structural walls formed from a multi-layered ceramic material that can be radio transparent, the company observes.

The abstract reads:

The multi-layered ceramic housing can be formed of a plurality of ceramic materials such as zirconia and alumina in any combination. The multi-layer ceramic substrate includes an inner layer and surface layers that sandwich the inner layer.

The multi-layer ceramic substrate has an increased transverse strength due to the surface layers having a coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) that is less than that of the inner layer.

AppleInsider explains that by “sandwiching together layers of ceramic materials with varying properties, tensile stress and RF transparency being just two, a structurally rigid and useful housing can be fabricated.”

Apple patent ceramic body (image 002)

Other reports have suggested Apple might use plastic to manufacture an iPhone that could compete with low-cost Android devices.

Any mass production of a budget iPhone body with a ceramic body would entail developing brand new production methods first, which may take years. Such a wait may not benefit Apple, already seeking ways to get out of a revenue trough as quickly as possible.

  • didnt Tim Cook say several months ago they will not create a budget iPhone…

    • No, Tim Cook never say that. Besides, Steve Jobs once said Apple would not make a 7 inch tablet…

  • Budget iPhone is an iPhone that is two generations old (iPhone 4)
    There will not be any other budget iPhones

    • There is a different between a budget iPhone and a discounted older iPhone model

      • Scott

        Normally budget devices are slower less powerful an less capable that use older, out dated hardware. So how is a iPhone 4 or 4s not a budget iPhone now when they hit each one of those points?

      • felixtaf

        But still some people will complain that a budget phone doesnt have latest processor! As far as budget phones go, it always with older and weaker specs (galaxy mini, s2 plus etc).
        Another pblm is, iphone 4 and 4s are still selling for 600$ in many countries…. So, if Apple announce a phone for say 350$, the phone wont be sold for 600$. Thats a win for consumers who cant afford a 600$ iPhone.

      • Scott

        And most free android phones are sold with a contract, just like the iPhone 4 or $99 iPhone 4S. Most of the time you don’t see people buying the android devices without a contract. So in the end it is still a budget phone if you want an iPhone. For most the iPhone 4 and 4S will do what most of those people are looking for just like the cheap android devices that you can get for free or $39 w/contract. Take great photos, have access to a great media and app Eco system and for the most part pretty reliable, which everyone wants from their phone.

      • felixtaf

        I agree… But this price point not applicable to most of the countries. There are countries with carriers thats sell only unlocked phones. (India, Singapore etc). So prices will be high in countires other than US or developed countries…

      • Scott

        True, and in that case there might be a slightly different model made for those locations due to the lower income. But if it is made for those areas it will probably have the older guts of the iPhone 4 or maybe even the 3GS. If they do make a different model for the lower income countries it will probably be only sold in those countries. I could be wrong though since what say/think is not an absolute.

      • Scott does have a point…

  • This will be so cool, it will be really great for those people who cant afford iPhones. It may made of cheap material but it will be still better then samsung’s galaxy.

    • when apple uses plastic material, it makes plastic “cool”… wtf

      • Well you don’t understand. Apple is into aluminium, whereas Samsung is into Plastic.
        If either of them change their phone’s body material, then people will definitely call it cool.

        Latest example of “cool” : HTC One

      • Thats what im talkin about

      • Dude does not matter,its gonna be cheap. for those people who cant buy a 600€ iPhone. I think 300€ iPhone will be worth a buy. And by the way i aint sayin plastic cool. Im saying that it would be “cool” if apple makes an cheap iPhone. Read carefully next time.

      • iDevizes

        the iPhone 3G en 3GS are made of plastic… And yes they were cool! Samsung uses it too and has some cool phones too… but te quality of plastic ain’t always the same 😉

  • @dongiuj

    THAT is the closest thing to resemble a brick i’ve seen and just look at the size of that screen!! What is the point of carrying around a hideous thing like that?

  • If they price is right then it will sell like the iPhone 4, it will be the phone to have.