The iPhone 6 is still months away, but the latest Apple patent could reveal the device’s killer feature. The document, which was submitted last September and approved on Thursday, describes an “Oleophobic Coating on Sapphire” which could be used to create a smudge-proof display for future Apple products. The patent goes on to mention how it could be applied to future smartphones as well as tablets and other devices.
Apple’s used an oleophobic coating to repel oily-smudges from its mobile devices starting with the iPhone 3Gs. Making the switch to sapphire glass means the old solution won’t work. Instead, Apple suggests adding a transition layer between the display and its coating. The patent also notes that this extra layer won’t mean a bulkier device or reduce the sapphire’s durability.
Previous Apple patents have hinted at a sapphire iPhone display, but today’s document suggests the rumors could become a reality. The company is working to produce sapphire glass at a factory in Arizona, though CEO Tim Cook hasn’t revealed the purpose for sapphire manufacturing beyond teasing some sort of “secret project.” With new iPads, MacBooks and even an iWatch expected later this year there’s no guarantee Apple is developing sapphire for the next iPhone, though based on its latest patent we wouldn’t rule out the possibility.