A new patent filing from Apple gives a little more evidence to the “cheaper iPhone” rumors that have been flying around since its original incarnation back in 2007. According to the patent, a possible material for the new device would be ceramic, using a method of production similar to that used for laminated fiberglass.

The specific materials are mentioned to be zirconia and alumina – combined. Apparently, zirconia allows radio waves to pass through it easily, that coming from another patent from Apple from years ago. With the title “MULTI-LAYERED CERAMIC ENCLOSURE”, it’s obvious that this would immediately bring the cheaper iPhone to mind. From the filing:

Techniques for fabricating a laminated ceramic housing that can be used for a handheld computing device that includes an enclosure having structural walls formed from a multi-layered ceramic material that can be radio-transparent. The multi-layered ceramic housing can be formed of a plurality of ceramic materials such as zirconia and alumina in any combination.

The multi-layer ceramic substrate includes an inner layer and surface layers that sandwich the inner layer. The multi-layer ceramic substrate has an increased transverse strength due to the surface layers having a coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) that is less than that of the inner layer.

This can be added to the multitude of rumored materials that will be used for the cheaper iPhone (if we ever see one), a list which includes the fiberglass, plastic, and even metal at one point. Supposed reasoning for Apple to release such a device is so that Apple can gain traction in emerging markets, where contract-free devices are much more prominent.

This would be beneficial for Apple as that is a market that has always been a struggle for the iPhone because of its unlocked price of $450 for the iPhone 4 8GB, all the way up to $849 for the iPhone 5 64GB. That is just too much for those markets.

What do you think? Still waiting on the cheaper iPhone? Wondering what it will be made of? Let us know in the comments.

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