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Apple patents indestructible iPhone technology

Apple is looking to make its phones indestructible – or at least, to make a cracked screen, something that has long plagued the expensive iPhone, very unlikely to happen.

Not only is Cupertino planning on using sapphire glass for the next iPhone (really, it should have been on the iPhone 6 by all accounts), but the company has just filed a patent for a clever system that will reorient a falling handset so as to cause minimum damage to vital components.

Apple Insider spotted the patent filed over in the US for a “protective mechanism for an electronic device”, which uses the phone’s sensors to monitor and detect when the device is falling through the air. It can then calculate on-the-fly where the iPhone is likely to impact on the ground below, and shift the handset’s centre of gravity to alter how it lands and minimise damage to the screen (or indeed camera if it’s heading for a rear-side landing).

The system uses existing sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes, but more advanced designs utilise ultrasonic sensors among other fancy measures. The patent then describes that a motor is then used to exert a force to change the phone’s orientation during falling, with the iPhone’s vibration motor apparently being sufficient to achieve this end.

More advanced reorientation measures are described, including retractable air foils – it’s all starting to sound a bit James Bond at this point – and a system which could eject a headphones cable if that would help.

As mentioned, when coupled with a much tougher screen, this could be the end of cracked or shattered displays save for a very few freak cases. Let’s hope so, as that’s been one of the major issues to have plagued iPhone users over the years.

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.