Apple patents cheap iPhone design with no Home button
Apple has filed a patent proposal for a plastic iPhone with no Home button
Apple has filed a patent for an iPhone with no Home button. Is this the first real evidence that it is working on a cheaper iPhone model?
Perhaps. The United States Patent & Trademark Office recently detailed patent No. 8,364,032, which shows an iPhone that has no home button on its face or front-facing camera (a rear-facing camera is included), reports Tom’s Hardware.
Apple originally filed the application on February 21, 2012, and was awarded it on January 29, 2013. The filing lists Apple engineers Chong Yip Chow, Hongqin Zhang, Shizhe Shen and Michael DiVincent as principal inventors.
The device in question, therefore, has been in development for almost 12 months. And now that Apple has the patent in place a launch could be on the cards. If this is indeed the budget iPhone perhaps it will launch alongside Apple’s iPhone 5S/6 later this year?
Here’s an extract from the filing:
‘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.’
‘It should be appreciated, however, that other transparent materials such as clear plastic can be used," Apple described. "The back of the device is embroiled by a protective cover that Apple says "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.’
Apple's iPhone business in trouble?
Analysts across the board have stated that Apple needs to release a cheaper iPhone handset, one that targets emerging markets and pre-pay users, if it wants its iPhone business to remain viable in the long run.
Sector & Sovereign Research analyst Paul Sagawa posted the following note to investors regarding Apple’s iPhone business:
‘Seeing smartphone competitors achieving similar market scale to Apple’s flagship iPhone model and platform rivals willing to subsidize device sales to build their installed base for lucrative web applications, leaves me skeptical that the high margin status quo approach can be sustained for more than a few more years.'
He added: ‘the more aggressive strategy seems the better one from a long term perspective, but will entail substantial cultural change, a significant re-investment of capital, and a more certain and certainly more painful hit to profitability.’