Why Apple’s iPhone 6 won’t need a case

“Evidence that Apple is going big with sapphire is overwhelming. But the reasons for Apple’s sapphire obsession range from scratch-resistant screens to solar-charging screens,” Mike Elgan writes for Cult of Mac. “I have another theory: Apple wants to eliminate both the need and the desire for an iPhone case, cover or sleeve. There’s a lot more to this idea than simple scratch resistance.”

“Apple is obsessed, obviously. The company is obsessed with elegant design. They’re obsessed with thinness and lightness. They’re obsessed with their own logo and visual, organic, word-of-mouth branding,” Elgan writes. “And that’s why it must give Jony Ive nightmares that millions of users cover his elegant, thin and light object of perfect with… crap.”

“The truth is that Apple essentially forces people to use cases. The iPhone 5 and 5s scratch easily, and simply look worse over time,” Elgan writes. “Apple has a patent for a range of technologies called “Sapphire Laminates” — in one of them, a very thin layer — less than 1 millimeter thick — of sapphire is bonded to Glass, which gives them the scratch-resistance of sapphire with the cost-effectiveness of glass… Another embodiment of Apple’s patent is a method for bonding sapphire to steel. And that’s technology Apple may use to eliminate the need for an iPhone case: I think Apple may be planning to put sapphire on both the front and the back of the iPhone 6.”

Read more in the full article here.

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43 Comments

    1. Apple will have to return to heavy phone again, if they are going to use sapphire as outer layer for whole body, rather than just screen.

      However, if Apple will use its technology to couple super-thin sapphire crystal over aluminium, then the weight might not increase a lot. But it is super hard; not sure if is possible.

  1. I have a bumper case for mine. It’s not just scratches on the screen I’m worried about but also dings and dents around the edges from dropping it. Sapphire-bonded glass won’t prevent that from happening, so I’ll still be packing mine in a slim bumper.

      1. The bonding may help with sealing holes but I think unless the expansion coefficients of the sapphire and steel are complementary you’ll start getting stress fractures over a shorter period of time than at present. Also it is the general rule of thumb that the harder a crystalline material is the more brittle it becomes. (e.g. Diamond may be way up there in hardness but it is one of the most brittle. You can easily crush one with a regular hammer) So I suspect the sapphire coating will definitely help with scratch resistance but will probably shatter more spectacularly than at present when impacted.

  2. Hey Uncle Scott, you know how you’re always talking about the iPhones needing cases, and how they should be made so they don’t need cases? It looks like Apple might actually start making iPhones that don’t need cases, starting with the iPhone 6. They’ll be able to do that by using a sapphire laminate on the glass, which will protect it. Of course, Liquidmetal is also an interesting thing that Apple’s been waiting to use: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquidmetal

    Josh -:)

  3. Whatever. Like Apple would ever want to kill off a very profitable accessories business. Adolescents and fashion-oriented buyers will swathe their phones with gaudy cheap silicone even if there is no technical reason to do so. Apple is happy to license electronic make-up and jewelry.

    1. Not sure I agree. Like with the change in iPhone connector accessories or iPods, Apple is known for “killing” off industries, sometimes its own.

      Besides, makes of cases will just adapt because even if the device doesn’t need it, people will choose to use one.

  4. Right.
    No one buys cases to extend battery life, weatherproof, or just simply personalize their iPhones.
    While I’m sure some at Apple would love it if no one used (non-Apple) cases on their iOS devices, I did not purchase my iPhone or iPad to act as a marketing vehicle for Apple- I bought them because they best fill my needs for a phone and tablet.

    1. I like covering the Apple branding too – it makes it less of a target for thieves. Having the name and logo only once on each device makes it very easy to cover – way less obnoxious than the branding on most electronics.

      I don’t mind marketing for Apple though – I can go on and on about how cool Apple stuff is to anyone willing to listen.

      I do see many iPhone with cases featuring a little window for the Apple logo, so some people really do want to show it off through a case.

  5. Haven’t used a case since the original iPhone. Why would anyone cover up this work of art? How about you just pay more attention to your phone, where you put it, how you grip it, and you wouldn’t need covers either. And no, I’ve never cracked any of my iPhone’s screens. So I think stating the iPhone needs a case is pure crap.

      1. “less slippery.” heh. I just yesterday went to the restroom in a public location and wished I had a rubberized case to keep it from slipping off the toilet paper holder while I finished my business. Of course I couldn’t have left it sitting in my pocket up to the point when I needed my hands free. 😛

    1. I have owned every iPhone and each looks perfect when I go to the next . Never have had a case and never will. I put the iPhone in my right pants pocket with nothing else. The big advantage is easy removal and unobtrusive.

    2. Well, Bah, you’re obviously such a perfect, flawless example of humanity, never, ever dropping anything, always got a perfect grip…
      Wow, I really wish I was as perfect as you.
      Regardless of what it’s made of, mine will be wearing a Lifeproof case, because I’m not Mr Perfect, and have dropped things, and wrecked a Nikon zoom lens slipping on wet rocks by the sea and landing on my camera, which could easily have been my phone, if I’d been holding it to take photos. It could very easily have landed in the sea, or in a rock pool. I also take photos at gigs, where it would be all to easy for a phone to be knocked out of my hand by exuberant audience members slam dancing in the mosh pit! A good case usually allows a lanyard to be used, adding to the safety.
      It’s also not unlikely that I could be taking photos when it’s pissing down with rain, making a sealed case essential.
      I guess Bah never actually leaves the sofa in his parent’s basement to discover just how easy it is to damage a valuable piece of equipment like an iPhone.

      1. No problem man, many strive to be more like me every day. I’ll add you to the mailing list.

        That being said, I was only pointing out that a case for your iPhone isn’t necessarily a necessity already, simply because I’ve proven otherwise. I have multiple friends who feel the same way, although some of them have actually cracked their screens.

        And luckily for me and my friends, we DON’T live in our parents’ basements, we have high paying careers (we are Mac/iOS users, so duh?) so we could easily replace our phone in the catastrophic event of carelessness.

        And I do leave my own house, I have three busy children of my own (who have NEVER touched my phone, are you crazy? They’re your kids, not your equals or bosses). So, your profile of me was indeed quite a bit incorrect.

        But my wife, as an individual, most certainly needs a case. She has much less respect for her phone than I do. But I was raised poor, which probably helped me achieve perfection 😉

      1. For any serious labor, my phone isn’t with me. But for hikes, camping,etc., I keep it in my pocket, and I give it a death grip when I’m taking pictures. I may not be the dirtiest individual in the world, but I’m most certainly an outdoorsman. All of my iPhones (1,3G,4,5) are still in perfect working order, no cracked screens. Some people definitely need cases with their lifestyles. Me, and plenty others do not.

  6. This wouldn’t likely be production-ready for the iPhone 6. Sapphire and LiquidMetal will be used in the iWatch, which would require much lower quantities, and then next year the production capacity will be streamlined for the next iPhone.

  7. I don’t know…iPhone 6 hasn’t met my phone hating Parrot. He lives by Seek and Destroy. Though he’s hated phones for a long time, even before the iPhone came along, so it’s nothing personal to Apple 🙂

      1. He is the master of phone case destruction so we will see. But then there are days I stupidly forget it on the Counter and I have to run as soon as I hear the attack begin! So far he hasn’t dismantled or damaged the actual phone, but the cases definitely bear battle scars from the beak! Can’t say enough good things about my CaseMate rubber-ish Penguin cover, it gets thrown from the counter to the tile floor at least once a week and has never broken the screen. We give the parrot the old cases which helps distract him from the real ones.

  8. Besides, cases are fun, they give individual personality to each phone, besides protection so I think people will still want cases. My husband clips his to his belt so for him not to have a case the iPhone would have to be built with clip on properties and that sure isn’t going to happen!

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