Is This A Patent For The 'Budget' iPhone?

It's a rumour that never dies: Apple is working on a cheaper, "budget" iPhone that will push for market-share in developing markets where the companies typically premium are especially expensive. But in the absence of hard evidence, we have soft evidence. Like this patent for a plastic iPhone. Maybe this is that rumoured budget iPhone? Maybe?

An astonishingly spare patent, — I mean, look at that graphic — number No. 8,364,032 here was filed for in February 2012, and was just granted in late January of this year. Essentially, it covers a device with a front-facing screen, rear-facing camera, and a body made out of plastic. You'll also note there's no home button.

How this patent wasn't already snatched during the development of one of the many Android phones that seem to fit this description to a T is anyone's guess. But if there were to be a cheaper iPhone, one in the $US100-$150 range, it makes sense that it would take a form similar to this.

Then again, patents like this are just that: patents. But if a cheap iPhone really is coming, this might have something to do with it. Maybe. We'll just have to wait and see. [Tom's Hardware]

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Comments

    Evidence of a cheap iPhone, or legal weapon designed to tie up makers of similar phones in court again?

    Previous Art will prevent apple from using this patent against other device makers...seeing as they have been making phones that look like this before Apple got this patent.... Still absolutely amazed that you can patent this... that's the US patent system for you though!

      Didn't prevent them form winning $1b from Samsung. Apparently Judges in the US don't ascribe to the prior art clauses in patent law.

        Very different circumstances in the eras they were talking about - and Samsung put up a WOEFUL defense.. Most of their interviews were freaking over the phone to the court or video conference..

        They also spent something like 60% of their pre-allocated time to simply objecting to every tiny thing Apple said.. Honestly so poorly handled, and at that time even though i'm a solid android supporter, the iphone WAS one of the first phones with that exact style of design. I owned many many PDA style "smart phones", which were VERY capable for their time - but the simplicity of a nearly edge to edge all touch device with no pen or bezel wasn't 100% unique in its features but was pretty unique in its design.

        End 2am offtopic rant <3

    If the patent describes many android phones 'to a T' then I imagine that the application would be denied on prior art.

    Oh wait, sorry, this is the USPTO we're talking about -- Samsung, HTC, cower in fear.

      BAAAHAHAHAHAAA!!! OH MAN!

      Did anyone from any tech-site ANYWHERE read the patent?

      It's about a small form factor device that can possibly have a cover that doesn't - get this - reflect the flash into the camera lens.

      Seriously, that's all it is. A phone cover that separates the flash from the lens.

      Edit: Oh man, looks like whoever wrote this for Tom's Hardware DID read the patent... but then completely ignored the fact that the device is only described insofar as 'has camera on back, can have cover'

      Edit2: And for the last bit of proof -- this is a continuation of a previous patent (http://www.google.com/patents/US20120070140) that is for a phone cover.

      Last edited 04/02/13 5:09 pm

    Perhaps they are making a software home button... Just a thought. Might wear out...

    My initial thought upon seeing the image with the title: "Wow, Apple really has patented the rounded rectangle"

    Why won't people shut up about this? The budget iPhone already exists.

    It's called "iPhone 4".

    @olearymo
    Hmmm.. This would be the plastic iPhone that someone laughed about last week..!
    Apple would never do that now would they. You can apologise any time dude. :)

      Don't worry, as soon as they make all their iPhones plastic, I'll be glad to apologise ;)

      Last edited 05/02/13 9:18 am

    A cheap plastic iPhone eh. You mean apple are reviving the iPhone 3G? Cool.

    Good grief guys. It took me about 2 minutes to firstly find the USPTO website and secondly search on that patent number to find that is it for: "Light isolating protective cover for small form factor electronic device"

    A cover! A cover designed not to screw up the flash/camera.

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8,364,032.PN.&OS=PN/8,364,032&RS=PN/8,364,032

    You're just not trying or you're turning a blind eye to keep the rumour mill turning. Don't know which is worse.

    Last edited 04/02/13 11:04 pm

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