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Apple patents design for super thin iPhone speakers

We have been hearing a lot about the iPhone 7 these last few weeks along with Apple’s future plans for audio on its flagship smartphone. Following on from reports that Apple is set to kill off the 3.5mm headphone jack to save space, a patent has been uncovered showing off a super thin speaker design for a future iPhone.

The patent was awarded to Apple this week and describes a way of getting better and louder audio into thinner devices: “Given the area constraints imposed on many portable electronic devices, it is increasingly difficult to provide high-quality audio sound output and pickup without hindering the ability to make portable electronic devices smaller and thinner. Consequently, there is a need for improved approaches to provide high-quality audio sound output and/or pickup from portable electronic devices as they get smaller and thinner.”

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The idea here, as 9to5Mac points out, is to allow the internal space of the phone to act as an audio chamber: “The invention pertains to a portable electronic device that provides compact configurations for audio elements. The audio elements can be drivers (e.g., speakers) or receivers (e.g., microphones). In one embodiment, an audio element can be mounted on or coupled to an intermediate structure (e.g., a flexible electrical substrate) having an opening therein to allow audio sound to pass there through. In another embodiment, an audio chamber can be formed to assist in directing audio sound between an opening an outer housing and a flexible electronic substrate to which the audio element is mounted.”

This does seem to be another thing pointing towards a thinner iPhone 7 with no headphone jack, forcing users to rely on wireless headphones or potentially the lightning port for wired headphones. The speakers should be slightly improved though according to this patent.

KitGuru Says: I personally use headphones with my iPhone 5S quite often, especially while travelling so I would rather Apple didn’t outright remove it. However, it seems that the plans are already set in motion at this point. 

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