A patent application issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) appears to reveal how Apple could replace the notch with a pill-shaped cutout and a location for the selfie camera in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, as reported by Patently Apple (via 9to5Mac).
Several iterations of a device that incorporates a camera, an infrared light emitter, and a “light folding element” to refocus the IR light are described in the patent application. The application details the usage of a light-folded projector to minimize the size of these elements, freeing up more room for the phone’s screen.
Although Apple reduced the size of the notch on the iPhone 13 by 20 percent from the previous year’s models, it still contains a variety of sensors and cameras, including those used for taking selfies, infrared cameras, depth sensors, and a dot projector. With this patent, though, Apple claims it has found a way to rearrange some of that technology that will allow it to make the notch smaller.
If you’re interested, here’s a snippet from the description surrounding the patent claims (and the application is attached at the bottom of this page if you’d want to peruse it):
For instance, the IR light emitter might not need to be installed in a particularly strategic spot so long as the light folding element is present to alter the transmission direction of the IR light. As an alternative, the infrared (IR) light emitter can be positioned in a less cramped area, and the light folding element can be used to direct the IR beam in the desired direction. Thus, the display surface of the device can be increased while the notch for storing the imaging and sensing components is reduced in size.
However, the USPTO’s publication of this application does not ensure that Apple will incorporate the technology into future products. However, there have been a few more signs suggesting that the notch region of the next generation of Pro iPhones would be drastically modified.
The greatest evidence is perhaps the report by Apple insider Mark Gurman that Apple is switching to a pill-shaped cutout and hole punch selfie cam. Days before the release of the iPhone 13, Apple expert Ming-Chi Kuo predicted the existence of a Pro iPhone 14 without a notch. MacRumors reports that a number of Twitter users with a history of leaking phone information have lately released some intriguing new photographs that may reveal how the new notch area looks on actual phones.
Photos of what seems to be the pill cutout and selfie cam punch hole on an iPhone 14 Pro were published by user “DuanRui,” who also leaked the moniker “iPhone 12 Mini” on Twitter before Apple officially announced it. It’s unclear precisely where they came from, as DuanRui claims in his profile that most of his content is republished from Chinese social media, but at the very least, they provide a glimpse into what the suspected new design would look like.
And Ice Universe published a photo of an “iPhone 14 Pro dummy.” You’ll see that there are two distinct holes in the middle of the pill in this photograph, which suggests a modest design variation from the pills DuanRui previously published.
Thankfully, it won’t be long before we find out if Apple is indeed experimenting with a new notch design and, if so, what it would look like. On September 7th, the business will hold its next product presentation, where the public anticipates the unveiling of the iPhone 14 series.
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