iPhone 8 to be made of Zirconia Ceramic?

“The next iPhone will be made of Apple’s ‘stunning ceramic,’ a light, super-smooth, scratch-resistant compound that’s already being used in the new Apple Watch Edition,” Joon Ian Wong writes for Quartz. “That’s the theory, anyway, but one that’s strongly argued by self-styled ‘alchemist and metaphysician’ Brian Roemmele on Quora.”

“Roemmele points to three Apple filings with the US Patent and Trademark Office to back up his prediction. Collectively, they show that Apple has developed techniques to make ceramic components that contain electronics,” Wong writes. “The newest filing, published Sept. 8, is the most interesting. It’s a patent application that describes how Apple could ‘co-mold’ a housing for an electronic device from polymer — which could be a plastic or rubber — and ceramic. The ceramic part is the external housing, while the polymer, which is easier to mold into intricate shapes, comes into contact with the electronics. The filing includes drawings of a co-molded housing for a watch, smartphone, and tablet.”

“The Apple Watch Edition, the high-end version of the Apple Watch, contains clues to what a future ceramic iPhone could look and feel like, Roemmele points out. Apple says the ceramic used in its watch contains zirconia and alumina (oxides of zirconium and aluminum) . The use of zirconia makes the ceramic difficult to break, scratch-proof, and cool to the touch even when its electronics are pumping out heat, according to Jon Binner, professor of ceramic science and engineering at the University of Birmingham,” Wong writes. “Crucially, it will also be ‘radio transparent,’ meaning that radio frequencies can penetrate it easily, so the device should have less trouble getting a signal. These properties would help an iPhone or iPad, too.”

More info and links in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Makes a lot of sense, especially if you regard the $1249-$1299 Apple Watch Edition, “now in stunning ceramic,” as Apple’s proof of concept.

Brian Roemmele’s article on Quora is here.

20 Comments

    1. I don’t think so, if they test it on a small scale with the edition, then it’ll be ready to go by iPhone time. And with economies of scale? They could easily keep the iPhone the same price. Can’t wait to get my ceramic watch and see how it performs.

      1. The Edition of the Apple Watch costs $1249, not because it’s ceramic, but because it’s “Edition” The markup could be significant. Certainly economies of scale place the Sport, Hermes and Edition at different price categories, but I think the actual costs for each version is similar, or at least that would be the intent.

        To the customer, what you get is superior product with different attributes, such as robustness and weight. The Edition being both robust and light weight, where as the aluminum is light, and the Hermes is robust and more stylish.

        When you get down the build materials, I would think the costs to manufacture the ceramic body to be about similar to the Jet Black iPhone, with extra processing.

        Frankly, worrying about what the phone is going to be made of… If they do actually make it out of ceramic, it will come with new problems, but be so amazing to hold. My thoughts are how the back, being so thin, will hold up – day to day. It will need to be some sort of alloy, metal mixed with ceramic, like they did with gold.

  1. Quartz and their source got the information from Patently Apple without crediting them.

    PA report: bit.ly/2cG8dVZ Revealing Apple Patent Covers Ceramic Apple Watch and All-New Ceramic iPhone

    Why didn’t MDN not know that?

  2. Hopefully it won’t explode like these Samdung phones keep doing. Here is the latest: Samsung phone explodes, which then causes car to explode on highway.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3789271/Driver-charging-Samsung-Galaxy-Note-7-car-caused-huge-highway-explosion-phone-blew-passenger-seat.html

    So, the authorities are banning the use of Samsung phones on planes, trains and buses. Will they now ban Samsung phones on roadways too?

    1. With metal, plastic, and glass that is correct, however with industrial ceramics heat dissipation works a little differently. Ceramic has an ability to absorb heat while slowly dissipating it, and that’s why it feels cool to the touch under normal operations. However it will heat up under prolonged load just like any other material, it just takes longer. The great thing about ceramics is that you can basically engineer them to do anything you want, and posses whatever structural properties you need. And since they are completely recyclable, very cost effective in the long run. I’m super excited for my ceramic watch, and can’t wait until Apple does more with this material. NASA uses advanced ceramics in almost every satellite and probe out in space, it’s all over the space station, and even in architecture we put advanced hardened ceramics into building plans for electrical boxes, boiler rooms, electrical roughing insulation, and in watertight network boxes that have to operate outdoors to provide wireless in public places. It’s great stuff, and now that Apple is pushing it into the mainstream of electronics it could be a real game changer.

  3. I imagined Apple machining the insides ceramic Watch cases and thought that it must be a time-consuming, expensive process. This idea of the molded polymer shaping inside a hard ceramic shell is brilliant. Of course M&M candies thought of it a hundred years ago.

  4. Nah, next Apple Phone will have a new name and be made of silicon-carbide, and it won´t have speakers because the glass will be used as the speaker. Apple already have a patent of that, and Corning has the glass.

    1. The ceramic they’re using in the watch is much harder than steel, and if it holds up well on the watch, it can easily hold up on a phone. For all the bitching about the iPhone 4/4s and the glass back it held up remarkably well in my experience. And amazingly no one gives Samsung any shit when they out a glass back on their devices. I think this polymer molding idea is brilliant, that way they can devote all the resources to hardening the ceramic with extra firing, and gloss coats, and possibly adding other materials to it to improve scratch resistance. Im very excited to see how my new watch holds up, and ceramic is the ultimate recyclable to boot.

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