The US Patent and Trademark Office (UPTO) has published a new Apple patent, revealing yet more clues regarding the iMaker’s alleged plans for a cheaper, smaller iPhone.
Rumours have been rife lately that Apple is secretly working on a so-called iPhone mini that replaces the glass and aluminium construction of current models for a more economical polycarbonate plastic material – ostensibly to keep costs down to compete with a deluge of keenly priced smartphones from rivals.
So the patent for a “light isolating protective cover for small form factor electronic device” suggests to us that it could be intended for said iPhone, likely to avoid light leakage issues typically associated with plastic-covered handsets.
The abstract states: “A portable device has a rear facing camera assembly and a front facing display assembly that includes at least a protective cover layer, a display stack that includes a plurality of display components arranged in a plurality of interconnected layers, the display stack providing an imaging service, and a flat support chassis arranged to provide support for the display stack.
“In the described embodiment a protective cover can wrap around and protect at least the rear portion of the portable device without adversely affecting an image capture process carried out by the rear facing camera assembly."
Basically, Apple has come up with an iPhone cover that’ll prevent light from escaping the device while protecting the rear-mounted camera without hampering the quality of photos.
Seeing as there are many third-party covers that already do this for existing iPhones, we’re more inclined to think that what we’re looking at here is designed for the much-rumoured plastic model.
In addition to the iPhone mini, Apple is also mooted to be working on a standard-sized sequel to the iPhone 5 – possibly to launch in summer – and a larger model dubbed the iPhone Math (also iPhone+) that’s said to feature a 4.8-inch display and might land later in the year.