iPhone and MacBook models could arrive in new matte black colour options in the future, as the Cupertino company was granted a patent that could allow the company to produce a dark version of its smartphone, laptops, tablets, and smartwatches, according to details shared in the patent document issued by the US Patent Office (USPTO) on Tuesday. While original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) including Apple have launched devices with matte finishes in the past, creating one with a dark colour — such as black — has proved to be challenging.
US patent 11751349-B2, titled "Anodised part having a matte black appearance" was granted to Apple on Tuesday and the USPTO credits James Curran, Aaron Paterson, and Sonja Postak as the inventors of the technology. The document that was published by the patent office also reveals that Apple filed the application for the patent in May 2020.
Apple's latest patent refers to the use of an anodised part that comprises both a metal substrate and an anodised layer that is created from the metal substrate. The company has designed the anodised layer to utilise light-absorbing features that are located at varying locations and can absorb light that falls on the surface of the device's enclosure. Apple details plans to etch the surface of an anodised part to create these light-absorbing features.
In order to impart colour to the anodised layer, Apple describes the use of "pores" on the surface that have particles of colour infused in them. The patent document claims the anodised layer will have a CIELAB L* value that is lower than 10. This means that the appearance of the product's surface would be nearly black, but with a matte finish.
Figures 6A, 6B, 7A, and 7B depict the etched anodised part under an electron microscope
Photo Credit: USPTO/ Apple
Many manufacturers have tried to create devices with a matte finish that is nearly black in colour, but most efforts have failed — anodised metal that is black in colour appears glossy and reflects large amounts of light instead of absorbing it. Apple has provided details of how the company managed to create a truly black device with a metal finish in the patent document.
Recent reports suggest that Apple could be working on products such as a smart ring that can provide haptic feedback and pressure-sensitive input. Similarly, a recent patent application hints at work on AirPods sensors that allow Apple's wireless earphones to measure brain electrical activity. Apple was also recently granted a second patent that points to the possible addition of Face ID support on future MacBook and Mac computers.
Affiliate links may be automatically generated - see our ethics statement for details.
For details of the latest launches and news from Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, OnePlus, Oppo and other companies at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, visit our MWC 2024 hub.