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Future Apple devices may have a radically different look

With the expected launch of the iPhone 13 (or possibly the iPhone 12S) just a month away, we've heard no end of rumours about what Apple's next flagship mobile will offer us. Now a newly discovered patent filing hints that a major design change may be on its way across Apple devices, removing all remaining buttons.

The patent describes a "disappearing button or slider", suggesting that Apple aims to remove buttons, keys and sliders for an even slicker design in future devices. These would be replaced by touch-sensitive surfaces hidden in devices' frames and visible only when illuminated. See our guide to Apple deals for the best prices on current products.

iPhone 12

The iPhone 12 has an on-off button, volume controls and a slider to mute the ring (Image credit: Apple)

The patent, which was filed in April and picked up by AppleInsider speaks of "capacitive sensing input devices". It says "the input device appears invisible because it is made of the same material as the housing it is contained in. Invisible backlit holes may make the input selectively visible or invisible to the user."

The filing notes that this would have aesthetic advantages, allowing for a completely seamless design, but would also improve durability by reducing wear. It's not clear when, or on what device, Apple plans to implement the concept, or if it will even see the light of day, but it sounds like it would allow the iPhone to lose its on-off button, volume controls and slider. That would certainly be a very Apple move and sounds like Steve Jobs' ultimate minimalistic vision for the iPhone. Apple dropped the 3.5mm headphone jack in 2015 and the physical 'Home' button in 2017, so it follows that it could aim to ditch buttons altogether.

Apple patent

An image from Apple's patent filing (Image credit: Apple)

In the meantime, we're excited about some of the rumours we've heard about the upcoming iPhone 13, which is expected to make its appearance next month. We've heard the new smartphone may feature game-changing video, bringing a form of portrait mode to video filming. There's also a rumour that it will have a far bigger battery than the iPhone 12. However, if don't want to wait, the current iPhone already offers amazing performance – check below to see the best prices available now.

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Joseph is a freelance journalist and translator, as well as a project manager at a design agency based in Buenos Aires. His interests include graphic design and social media. He spends his nights dancing tango and drinking malbec.