back to article 'Ribbed' for your pleasure: Jony Ive unveils NAKED IPHONE

Apple has patented a method of building an all-glass device which could herald the arrival of a see-through iPhone. It has been granted a patent called "Fused glass device housings" which describes a technique of fusing glass pieces together in a way that makes the whole structure strong enough to withstand an impact. As well …

  1. Khaptain Silver badge


    Now you will be able to see all those parts that are not user replaceable.

    Oh look :

    There's the ram that I can't change.

    There's the battery that I can't change.

    etc, etc

    Also if your iDevice get's dirty on the inside, dust etc, now you will be able to see the dirt/dust whereas before it was not a problem....

    1. RISC OS

      Re: Frustrating

      Normal people don't want to or need to replace such things.

    2. smartypants

      Remember what happened to transparent keyboards?

      Once upon a time, Jonny Ive foisted transparent keyboards on the world. The result? A year of crud (sandwich crumbs, coffee drips, dodgy bodily fluids etc.) collected in full view.

      It was marvellous to be able to watch the tiny ecosystem. I think I saw an earthworm in my keyboard by the end.

      But Apple spoiled it all by replacing the transparent keyboards with opaque aluminium ones. Boo!

      1. Michael Thibault

        Re: Remember what happened to transparent keyboards?

        Opaque aluminum! When did they invent that?

    3. Nigel 11

      Re: Frustrating

      Now when you drop it onto a gravel drive, it'll be a write-off whether it lands display side up or display side down or even sideways.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bit extreme.

    Apple really, really don't want people fixing those phones.

  3. Andrew Stubbs

    Perhaps for a screen on both sides?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Screen on both sides

      So instead of actually talking face to face, you can hold up your phone between you and your "mate", and talk at said phone, and they look at other side of said phone and talk back?

      Or you'll both be running your hands over the respective sides at the same time?

      Weird and sad. That's the only way to describe that idea

  4. G R Goslin


    So Apple have re-invented the milk bottle, the coke bottle and whatever else. So much for prior art.

    1. Peter Storm

      Re: So

      Ah yes I remember those coke bottle and milk bottle phones. Made a bit of a bulge in the pocket but the milk bottle phone was dead handy if you got into a punch up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So

        > Made a bit of a bulge in the pocket

        To impress the girls you should put it in a different place in your trousers.

  5. knarf

    What Steve Jobs didn't invent this

    Come on he must have sent secret messages from beyond for this one.

    I wonder if the hard grafting apple engineers ever got a bit annoyed with Stevie putting his mark on all the patents.

  6. JDX Gold badge

    Surely saphire glass doesn't need reinforcing since it's actually aluminium metal? This sounds like a patent for using regular(ish) glass?

    1. Anonymous Blowhard

      Engineering 101

      If you use thin sheets of anything, then reinforcing ribs are a good option; many of the panels used in cars are basically steel sheets with ribs (formed by bending steel sheets) welded to make them more rigid. Check the underside of your bonnet (USA = hood) some time.

      Thin sheets of aluminium (although sapphire != aluminium) are particularly flexible, that's why we can wrap turkeys and unwrap chocolate bars with our bare hands.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Engineering 101

        (although sapphire != aluminium)

        Just looked this up, and sapphire is essentially impure Aluminium oxide.

        just my contribution to the useless factoid of the day.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Vector

            Re: Engineering 101

            "Transparent aluminium is an internet meme that's a complete misunderstanding of a research paper..."

            Um...or it's a reference to Star Trek IV?

            1. chivo243 Silver badge

              Re: Engineering 101

              Scotty: How do you know he didn’t invent the stuff?

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Nigel 11

          Re: Engineering 101

          Sapphire is impure ... if it didn't have trace impurities it would be transparent and colourless, not blue. Yes, I know that the initial topic was sapphire glass not sapphire (a gemstone)....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Transparent aloominum?!

    3. Nigel 11


      Brittle materials are ... brittle. You can break even a diamond into pieces using a hard steel chisel and a small hammer. How do you think they divide a large natural diamond of irregular shape into pieces that can be ground into jewels? (And how do you think the expert gem-cutter feels, when after much planning the multimillion-dollar uncut diamond cleaves in a different way to the plan? )

      As for phones ... when a mobile meets a flint-gravel drive, the phone will lose. Sods law says display down, onto a sharp flint point, every time, guaranteed. Heck, it even works for buttered toast onto carpet.

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Re: Brittle

        Yes, but reality how many people have flint-gravel drives and how many of them regularly drop an unprotected phone onto them?

        I'm reminded of talking to a friend many years ago when I bought a ruggedised torch to replace one that had broken when I dropped it while up a step-ladder.

        "Ah", he said, "but it wouldn't survive a 100 foot drop onto concrete, that's how most of my torches die.". (He worked for the National Grid at the time.)

        Do you know what? He was probably right, it wouldn't have survived that. But then I wasn't planning on putting into that situation and never did. All I needed it to do was to survive a drop of around 6-7 feet onto carpet or possibly lino, and it did that.

        Eventually it died the usual torch death of being left in the back of the drawer and then eaten from the inside by its own leaking batteries.


        Point is, if you have a flint-gravel drive that you regularly drop your phone on to then an all-glass phone is probably something you need to avoid, or maybe buy a case for it.

    4. MCG

      Err, it's a glass not a metal... the word "glass" in the name is a dead giveaway.

  7. ElNumbre
    Thumb Up


    With wireless charging and wireless data, the unit could be sealed from all external influences. Bathtime iPhones?

    Nb, I assume Friction and/or Ultrasonic welding are new inventions in the world of the patent office?

    1. ukgnome

      Re: Seal

      Whenever I see Seal i now think of the french for seal.

      hey, it makes me laugh!

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Seal


        Do you mean Phoque and if you do I presume you know it has another meaning.

    2. dogged

      Re: Seal

      > Bathtime iPhones?

      Good luck plugging your headphones into that. Or charging it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seal

        Bluetooth + Wireless charging?

      2. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: Seal

        Or speaking into it, or listening to it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seal

      As long as physical SIM cards are required and can't be built in (something Apple has been talking to carriers about forever) a phone can never be sealed. If Apple ever gets them to go along with software SIMs (certificate based I assume) then they might try be interested in building a sealed phone. It would be waterproof enough you could take pictures with it underwater....I wonder if software can correct for the distortion of the water or if can only be done with a special lens?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seal

      You mean like my Sony Xperia Z1 Compact?

      Or does it not count until Apple do it.

  8. Anonymous Blowhard

    Apple patents "glass box"

    Doesn't Snow White's coffin count as prior art?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Apple patents "glass box"

      Poison apple?

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Apple patents "glass box"

      Sleepy, Sneezy, Siri?

    3. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: Snow White's coffin count as prior art

      No - that still had parts that could be manipulated by the end user

  9. nineworlds

    Like all equipment boxes for the last few hundred years?

    Every small equipment box I've worked with for electronics projects has essentially been a ribbed container, usually of plastic. Adding "made of glass" surely doesn't make this patentable, so you'd hope that the fusing process was super-clever for this to be an innovation.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: Like all equipment boxes for the last few hundred years?

      By all means point to an extant example.

  10. Patched Out

    TSA Proof?

    This might be the answer for getting devices through the airport security lines, since it would be nigh impossible to hide a bomb inside.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: TSA Proof?

      it would be nigh impossible to hide a bomb inside

      I am sure the bad guys would love the TSA and everyone else to believe that.

      I suspect getting through security check-in is more likely to become harder rather than easier once the bad guys have shown a viable bomb can be disguised as a battery and every glass phone reveals a potentially suspicious battery. Security checks are not so much about checking items are safe but checking items are not on their list of not allowed.

      Fear of battery bombs seem to be what is behind the latest security clamp down and the safety check there is to make sure the device powers on.

      Because we all know there's never going to be a battery which provides power and is also a viable explosive device, right?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TSA Proof?

        "... but checking items are not on their list of not allowed."

        Which seems to get weirder by the minute, as does the stuff you've got to get out before getting to security, which now includes lip gloss - I struggle to fathom why that and not cosmetics in general. Curries are a no-no in liquid form, but OK if they're frozen. I do wonder if they get some of it from books or films; belts would seem a good fit for Frederick Forsyth's "The Negotiator". We're stuffed if anyone gives them a Secret Squirrel box set for christmas.

        Judging by a recent security queue at Stansted, the fun should kick off anyway when they really get going with the 'no uncharged devices' rule. If they really do check them all, either the wage bill for security staff will double ticket prices, bankrupt the airports, or you'll need to turn up a week in advance.

        I've no idea what they do about the very personal like artificial limbs or pacemakers, but I can imagine a Mumsnet rebellion shortly after the Yemeni bombmakers are found to be experimenting with detonating tampons or incendiary pantyliners.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TSA Proof?

      They'd still make you turn it on, because TSA employees from the lowliest to the head are robots running through a checklist, and not allowed to use logical thought - even the ones capable of it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Michael K Pilliod

    Rearranged into a well-known phrase or saying:

    He calm: I kill iPod.


  12. Moosh

    I've seen the video in question

    And the man is putting bugger all effort in. The screen is flat on a bed for christ's sake.

    He didn't even take care to really dig it in and drag the blade across the screen. He wasn't even stabbing it particularly hard.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: I've seen the video in question

      Repeatedly stabbing and slashing at something lying on a bed? How about putting it in a bathroom and shooting at it through the door?

      1. Moosh

        Re: I've seen the video in question

        Oh you cheeky bugger, i've just made everyone in the office stare at me by emitting a large, singular "HAH!".

    2. mccp

      Re: I've seen the video in question

      Weren't you even mildly impressed when he stood on one end of the screen and bent it through 90 degrees while failing to inflict any damage to it whatsoever?

      1. Moosh

        Re: I've seen the video in question

        Not really, as current sapphire/gorilla glass screens, when detached from phones, already have similar properties. It's also a force that it will never experience in its intended usage, unless you're sitting on it I guess.

        The real issue is that in all of his mucking about, the screen is detached from anything; there's nothing holding it rigid. This is very different from what it will experience when actually attached to a phone. A drop from on high onto the corner or face first onto some uneven concrete will still bugger it up right and proper.

  13. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Transparent adhesive?

    so the best fanbois with see-through mobes can hope for is a glimpse of a processor or motherboard glue

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Transparent adhesive?

      Hey! That's not to be sniffed at.

  14. Scott Broukell


    Just wondering how such a construction method fits with recycling/safe disposal regulations currently in force, or waived (apologetically too), around the world today? Oh yes, I forgot, we just send it all to <insert third-world country name> and let the poor sods smash it all up with bare hands and a hammer whilst breathing in the toxic dust, silly me.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Recycling?

      Glass is routinely recycled, so I'm not clear on what you think the problem is. It would be easy to create an automated disassembly line that smashed the glass enclosure and then sent the internal components on for further processing. Indeed, this would be easier to automate for glass than a similar line for gadgets encased in plastic.

      Similarly, things held together with glue can be 'unfastened' in bulk in an oven, whereas a gadget held together with screws requires a person with a screw driver to take them apart - which is labour intensive.

      1. Scott Broukell

        Re: Recycling?

        @Dave 126 - Well, if you're sure, but I thought about the crushing and or heat to release the bonding, I guess once crushed, magnets could separate the glass from the metals and sieving / vibration might then release any lighter plastics due to the differing mass. But am not aware of any current process specifically designed for recycling such glass-encapsulated tech devices. There would seem, therefore, to be a lot of work in achieving the materials separation and that's where I see a potential problem, but I guess the costs would come down once this construction mode becomes more widely adopted.

  15. /\/\j17

    "a technique of fusing glass pieces together in a way that makes the whole structure strong enough to withstand an impact."

    A bold claim - from a company who's current phones seem to last about a week in most people's hands before becoming a work of shattered glass!

    1. a53

      A bold claim - from a company who's current phones seem to last about a week in most people's hands before becoming a work of shattered glass!

      I've had mine since the release, the only time i smashed the glass was when I fell and my 24 stone body crushed it into the kitchen floor. The replacement, now almost 18 months old isn't even scratched.

  16. stupormundi

    This means game over for those people who used to assemble frameless aquariums for decades, blissfully unaware that they were infringing on an apple innovation of the future.

    The existing aquariums will probably have to be destroyed, like fake swiss watches.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Aquariums are made from very thick glass and have to survive a lot of internal pressure. Neither is true for a phone. The patent isn't "we invented bonding pieces of glass together", but if you wanted to look at it that way the patent office would be on patent number 50,000 round about now.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    I could see them doing this

    Ive has always believed that devices should be as beautiful inside as they are outside, so I imagine he'd like a way to show that off.

    Not sure how interested consumers would be, but there would still be an option for an opaque case, so the nudists who like to let it all hang out can get this phone, and the rest of us can get the more modest model!

  18. a53


    Hate the new Lightning leads, they fall apart so easily. I've reverted to using a 30 pin with adaptor. much more robust.

  19. DiViDeD Silver badge

    I come here mostly for the intelligent writing

    "it is unclear whether it will be use if any all-glass device would use the material"

    'Unclear' doesn't even come close!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now you will be able to enjoy the sight of components that amount to around $200 after paying a 'little premium' for them.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jonny Ive

    Inventing things that aren't possible since 2002..

  22. DerekCurrie

    Idiotic Bias Showing Much?

    "Might it actually be about to make customers happy for once..." (O_o)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is he gay?

    Why is there a rainbow behind his head?

    Not that there is anything wrong with that of course.

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