We’re days away from the launch of Apple’s next iPhone-series and if you’ve been following the upcoming devices, you have probably heard of two major changes – the ‘mini’ iPhone being dropped from the lineup in favour of a new non-Pro iPhone 14 Max, and the new punch-hole-meets-pill-shaped notch that many are calling the ‘i-shaped’ notch.
The new notch style, which will reportedly only come to the Pro models (iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max) has been spotted in many leaked images and renders over the past few months, like these ones by Twitter users ‘Ian Zelbo’ and ‘DuanRui’.
— Ian Zelbo (@ianzelbo) May 25, 2022
— DuanRui (@duanrui1205) August 25, 2022
The new design for housing Apple’s front camera and other components finally gives a new look to the new Pro-series iPhones, a much needed refresh from the wide notch that despite a few size-reductions, has been around since the iPhone X. However, how Apple managed to fit all it’s front-facing components into the new, smaller pill-shaped cutout remains a mystery to many.
Now a new Apple patent, spotted first by Patently Apple (via 9to5Mac) suggests how Apple made the new notch design work. The patent published by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) mentions a device that implements a “light folding element” that is capable of redirecting the IR sensor’s input within the device, allowing the IR sensors themselves to be placed elsewhere inside the phone.
This is a key development, because it is the IR emitter and scanners that power Apple’s FaceID technology which have been responsible for the gigantic notch on the front of all newer iPhone models since the iPhone X, which adopt FaceID instead of the fingerprint-based TouchID (not including the SE series).
While the new ‘light-folding element’ mechanism doesn’t allow the design to be completely notchless just yet, it doesn pave a path for the notch to transition into what’s being called the i-shaped pill notch, an implementation that looks more modern and allows for more on-screen real estate.
Note that the Patently Apple report doesn’t explicitly confirm that it is this mechanism that powers the new ‘i-shaped’ notch, neither does it confirm that devices with the said mechanism will launch this year, but connecting the dots from the report to the leaks we’ve seen so far, this does look like the path Apple took to redesign its notch.
Apple is set to launch the iPhone 14-series, possibly with a few more hardware launches, on September 7. We should know more concrete details about the new notch design during the launch keynote.