Future iPhone models might feature swappable rear panels with different features

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Sometimes you can get an idea of what Apple is thinking by looking at its latest patent applications. Keep in mind that just because Apple applies for a patent doesn’t mean that it definitely plans on using the invention or innovation being protected by the patent if one is received. According to Apple patent experts Patently Apple, Apple has filed for a patent on an interesting concept that would allow iPhone users to swap out the rear panel on their phones for a replacement panel offering different features.
For example, using the magnets that allow the MagSafe accessories to attach to an iPhone 12 series model or later, and additional magnets, an iPhone user could remove the current rear panel on his iOS-powered handset and replace it with a rear panel that might feature better speakers or even a sensor that will allow diabetics to insert a test strip with a drop of blood and see their latest blood sugar readings. As Apple writes in the patent application, “the supplemental subsystem may be a blood sugar testing device, and may include a mechanism to receive blood samples (e.g., on paper test strips), and associated analysis components and circuitry to determine a blood glucose level based on the test strip.”

A replacement rear panel could also be used instead of a case to offer protection from drops to iPhone models by pushing out the rear panel and adding sidewalls that might protrude to prevent the device from touching the ground if dropped straight down. Other possibilities for the rear panel include adding “supplemental batteries, physiological sensors and/or health-monitoring devices, cameras, auxiliary displays, and the like.”

If a replacement rear panel contains additional cameras, such a panel could include “a lens, an image sensor, and associated electronics to facilitate image capture.” Another interesting possibility is a supplemental rear panel with a touchscreen display with a high-resolution color display or a low-resolution monochrome display.

As we’ve said, just because Apple files an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) it doesn’t mean that it will be awarded a patent. Last year, Apple was granted 2,536 patents in the U.S., up from the 676 it received back in 2011.


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