Smartphone companies have wanted, for a long time, to make a smartphone that’s just a thin pane of glass. But it’s mostly been the stuff of science fiction movies and Photoshop mockups. In 2017, though, for the iPhone’s tenth anniversary, Apple seems ready to try and make that a reality.
Reports are coming in from Chinese manufacturers that examples of all-glass iPhones are being put together to get manufacturing contracts for the iPhone 8. The Nikkei is claiming Foxconn has a model in, and that they’re using the lighter OLED screens in order to slim down the phone even further.
It’s a bold claim, but it’s not impossible. Advances in glass toughening have made it relatively easy to make objects out of glass that won’t immediately shatter if you drop them, although the idea of making a transparent phone is probably still a pipe dream. This is more likely to be a brick of smoked glass than it is to be the smartphone of Hollywood’s dreams, as transparent circuits and other technology we’d need are still in relative infancy. Nonetheless, rolling out an iPhone that’s seemingly just one pane of glass is both well within Apple’s design philosophy, and Apple desperately needs to make the iPhone stand out amid a sea of imitators. We’ll likely find out if glass is the way to go next year.