An Apple patent might hold the secret to iPhone 11 Pro's gorgeous glass

What you need to know

  • iPhone 11 Pro has a matte glass finish.
  • A new patent may tell us how Apple makes it.
  • The patent was filed in early 2018.

There's little doubt that the back of an iPhone 11 Pro looks stunning, but have you ever wondered how Apple turns a slab of glass into something with a matte finish that almost feels like metal? Well wonder no more because the folks at Patently Apple might have found the answer.

A patent, originally filed in early 2018, might explain just how Apple makes the glass for the back of an iPhone 11 Pro. The US Patent Office yesterday published a patent by the name "Thermoplastic forming Metal Glass Textures from Glass Molds" and it makes for interesting reading.

Well, not really. It's a hodgepodge of science and legalese but there are some interesting tidbits. For starters, there's the fact that the team that invented the new glass was also involved in iPhone X and iPhone XR, so it stands to reason they'd have a hand in iPhone 11 Pro, too.

Metal Glass is one of the toughest forms of glass and it's very possible that Apple may have used the method outlined in this latest patent application for the iPhone 11 Pro to give it a texture. In fact the inventors of this invention are responsible for metal alloys that went into iPhone X and XR and so it would seem that the new metal glass would fit their past and current work.

The process of making the glass is explained in the patent, but it's outlined as a method of thermoplastic forming method.

A method of thermoplastic forming a metallic glass comprising: placing a metallic glass on a glass mold having a portion of a surface with a fine surface texture; heating the glass mold to a processing temperature above the glass transition temperature of the metallic glass; applying a pressure to the glass mold; and cooling the metallic glass to form an article replicating the fine surface texture from the portion of the glass mold.

The patent was filed under reference 20190292643 in Q1 of 2018 which would likely also tie in with design and production times for the 2019 iPhones.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.