Could a ceramic iPhone be next?

IDG.TV | Oct 18, 2016

After unveiling a ceramic Apple Watch, Apple has filed a patent for a ceramic iPhone. But there are a few challenges to creating an iPhone out of a material that looks straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Goodbye glass, goodbye alumi-nee-um. Ceramic could be the material of future Apple gadgets.


Last month, Apple revealed a new Watch model made out of ceramic. It’s new, it’s cool, it looks like a set piece from 2001: A Space Odyssey. So, could a ceramic iPhone be next?


There’s reason to believe Apple wants to use more ceramic. The company has filed a patent application for a future version of the iPhone that would be made entirely out of this material. A ceramic iPhone would be harder to dent, bend or scratch. And Apple uses a special type of ceramic called zirconia to make sure that it doesn’t shatter into a million pieces... like all your childhood hopes and dreams.


Using ceramic brings other hardware benefits. For example, it would make it easier for the iPhone to finally get wireless charging, and radio frequencies can pass right through it, eliminating the need for those ugly antenna lines. Plus, ceramic could present unique design opportunities. Zirconia can be made to look totally transparent, like glass. So you could see all the inner workings of your iPhone.


So if ceramic is so cool, why haven’t we seen it on the iPhone yet? First of all, it’s expensive. The ceramic Apple Watch is over $1200, and I think most people would say the fancy new material isn't worth such a high premium.” The ceramic Apple Watch costs over $1200, which I don’t think a lot of people say is worth it.


Also, Apple has made a serious investment in the manufacturing of alumin-ee-um, also known as aluminum. So I don’t think switching gears can happen overnight, or even by the time the next iPhone comes out.


And last, but certainly not least, zirconia doesn’t transfer heat very well.


And the last thing anyone needs is a phone with an exploding battery.