Apple has been granted a patent that shows how smaller conductive nodes could be slotted beneath the screen, something that could shave at least a fraction of a millimeter off the thickness of the future iPhone 5 or iPad 2.
Given the fact that the iPhone 4 is only 9.9mm, the patent, which was filed back in 2009, could help Apple still maintain its claim about being the thinnest smartphone on the block.
More importantly perhaps, the method is said to save power which guarantees an even longer battery life for the next generation iPhone or iPad.
The trick apparently is to place the conductive nodes, the actual structure that allows the screen to be touch sensitive, on the enclosed surface that is situated beneath the touch panel.
The same technique could be rolled out on the trackpad of a Macbook or on the click wheels of some iPod devices although the power and thickness savings would be minimal.
Apple Insider (opens in new tab), who dug up the patent, did not say whether it would be more costly to implement. The screen component is the most expensive one on the iPhone according to the teardown carried out last year by iSuppli.