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Apple patent reveals charging cable cord with ‘uniform thickness’

Apple is working on a charging cord for its iPhones that will make frayed cables a thing of the past, a new patent suggests.  

The patent, filed to the US Patent and Trademark Office and dated Thursday, suggests the new cable will have a uniform thickness but different levels of stiffness.

Both ends of the cable – which are the most prone to physical stress and becoming frayed – would be extra-stiff, while the centre of the cable would stay flexible. 

Nowhere in the patent does Apple mention its proprietary power connector technology ‘Lightning’, suggesting it could be overhauled with the introduction of this new product. 

Apple patent shows a potential cable product with higher levels of stiffness at the ends. The stiff material, which is shaded in black, would be less prominent along the rest of the cable, while the overall thickness of the cable would stay the same

The patent describes what Apple calls ‘Cable With Variable Stiffness’ and was first discovered by Apple Insider. 

‘It is well known that bending of the cable near the termination point may cause unwanted strain on the wire connections, which may lead to cable failure,’ Apple says in the filing.

‘A cable can include a cable core comprising one or more signal conductors (such as electrically conductive wire). 

‘The cable core can be surrounded by an outer sleeve having a uniform thickness and further having a central section having a first stiffness, an end section at each end having a second stiffness.’

Apple’s last flagship phone release, the iPhone 12, came with a USB-C to Lightning Cable in the box.  

USB-C to Lightning Cable has small ‘strain relief sleeves’ at either end to bolster the strength and make them less prone to fraying.

‘It is common to provide a strain relief sleeve made of a stiff material around the end region of the cable,’ Apple says.

‘Existing strain relief sleeves are generally formed as a separate structure placed around the outer cable sleeve. 

‘The stiff material creates a localised increase in the bending resistance of the cable, thereby relieving strain on the wire connections.’  

However, the new cable described in the patent could get rid of these small strips, which Apple says ‘may not be desired’, while improving on the protection they offer. 

Fraying also tends to occur directly underneath these ‘relief sleeves’, making them practically redundant. 

Frayed cables are a bugbear for Apple users. As Apple points out, cables feature a 'relief sleeve' at either ends - but the fraying just ends up occurring beneath these layers of protection

Frayed cables are a bugbear for Apple users. As Apple points out, cables feature a ‘relief sleeve’ at either ends – but the fraying just ends up occurring beneath these layers of protection

Elsewhere in the patent, Apple points out that the stiff parts could be manufactured to be anywhere along the length of the cable.   

The US firm says it ‘may be desirable to have one or more stiff regions disposed at other locations along the length of the cable in addition to or instead of at the ends’.

Despite the patent filing, it’s still possible Apple is in the process of phasing out the charger entirely.

According to a respected Apple tipster, the iPhone maker may finally be killing off its Lightning cables in 2021 to make way for wireless-only charging.

By doing away with the Lightning connection, Apple may be able to boost sales by giving customers a ‘completely wireless experience’, TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously said. 

Apple may finally drop its Lightning cable (pictured above) in favour of wireless charging by 2021 according to top Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Stock image

Apple may finally drop its Lightning cable (pictured above) in favour of wireless charging by 2021 according to top Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Stock image

Apple has already been phasing out iPhone accessories that were previously included in the box with its iPhones.

iPhone 11, released in 2019, came with a pair of wired EarPods with Lightning connector, a USB to Lightning cable and a 5W USB power adaptor.

But its successor, iPhone 12, released last October, only came with the USB to Lightning cable.

At the iPhone 12 launch, Apple said this decision was taken to cut down on the environmental impact of its hardware. 

‘Customers already have over 700 million Lightning headphones, and many customers have moved to a wireless experience,’ said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of environment, policy and social initiatives.   

‘There are also over 2 billion Apple power adapters out there in the world, and that’s not counting the billions of third-party adapters.’

‘We’re removing these items from the iPhone box, which reduces carbon emissions and avoids the mining and use of precious materials.’ 

Pictured here is Apple's breakdown of 'what's in the box' with the iPhone 11, released in 2019, and what was eliminated from the iPhone 12 box (crossed out in red)

Pictured here is Apple’s breakdown of ‘what’s in the box’ with the iPhone 11, released in 2019, and what was eliminated from the iPhone 12 box (crossed out in red)

The tech giant claimed the decision to remove the two accessories will cut over 2.2 million tons of carbon emissions a year.

Analysts are already anticipating what the iPhone 13 will look like before its expected unveiling this autumn. 

Earlier this week, it was reported by the Twitter tipster Mauri QHD that Apple has created a prototype iPhone without the black ‘notch’. 

The rectangular black notch, which has featured on flagship iPhone models since 2017, conceals the phone’s front-facing camera components and sensors.    

The prototype instead puts these important components at the top of the bezel, the border between a screen and a phone’s frame, which would be slightly bigger. 

There’s a chance that Apple’s notch-less design might not be ready for the market until 2022, when the iPhone 14 would be released, Mauri QHD said. 

iPHONE 13 RUMOURS 

NO NOTCH? 

Apple is considering ditching the black ‘notch’ at the top of the iPhone for its next flagship model, the iPhone 13, according to an online tipster. 

The rectangular black notch, which has featured on flagship iPhone models since 2017, conceals the phone’s front-facing camera components and sensors.   

Pictured, the iPhone 12 marking out the notch and the bezel. Zero bezel effectively means the device's screen blends seamlessly into the edges of the device. The notch's days may soon be numbered on the iPhone, according to Mauri QHD, an Apple tipster on Twitter

Pictured, the iPhone 12 marking out the notch and the bezel. Zero bezel effectively means the device’s screen blends seamlessly into the edges of the device. The notch’s days may soon be numbered on the iPhone, according to Mauri QHD, an Apple tipster on Twitter

But according to the tipster, who goes by the name Mauri QHD on Twitter, Apple has created an iPhone 13 prototype with no notch at all. 

The prototype instead puts these important components at the top of the bezel, the border between a screen and a phone’s frame. 

‘There’s a prototype with no notch at all, but – a bit – bigger bezels,’ Mauri QHD tweeted.   

All four sides of bezel on the prototype ‘are equally bigger’, he added, meaning the top part of the bezel won’t stick out further than the others. 

The sensor-housing notch was first introduced to the iPhone with 2017’s iPhone X – but was mercilessly lambasted by critics and fans alike as a terrible design flaw. 

Apple’s phone-making rival Samsung even mocked the notch in an ad for its Galaxy Note 8 smartphone at the time, featuring a man with a notch-shaped haircut. 

RETURN OF TOUCH ID

A report in January indicated that iPhone 13 would see the return of its Touch ID technology, in the form of an in-screen fingerprint reader.

This would help users unlock their smartphones without having to remove their face masks during the current pandemic. 

According to Bloomberg, instead of reintroducing a Home button, the Touch ID technology would be embedded within the new iPhone screen

According to Bloomberg, instead of reintroducing a Home button, the Touch ID technology would be embedded within the new iPhone screen 

Apple first introduced Touch ID in 2013 with the iPhone 5S, in the form of a fingerprint reader integrated into the iPhone’s home button.

However, Apple started to move away from this technology in 2017, with the introduction of Face ID in the iPhone X.

According to Bloomberg, instead of reintroducing a Home button, the Touch ID technology would be embedded within the iPhone 13 screen.   

Rather than being a replacement for Face ID, Touch ID would be an additional method of unlocking the iPhone, according to the report. 

CAMERA UPGRADES 

iPhone 13 models will feature an upgraded Ultra Wide camera lens with a wider ƒ/1.8 aperture, compared to ƒ/2.4 on iPhone 12 models, according to an investor note shared with MacRumors. 

The site said in February: ‘A wider aperture would allow for more light to pass through the lens.

‘The move from a ƒ/2.4 to ƒ/1.8 aperture [will] likely to result in significantly improved low-light performance when shooting in Ultra Wide mode on iPhone 13 models.’



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