New iPhone colors like the Pacific Blue ushered in by the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max always generate a lot of interest, and it looks as though Apple has plans for a new shade to cover most of its consumer products: matte black.
As per a patent spotted at Patently Apple, Apple is currently investigating ways of overcoming the hurdles that make matte black such a difficult color to get on the anodized metal that wraps around a lot of the gadgets that we use. Aluminum, titanium and steel are all mentioned in the patent.
These technical challenges are why the true matte black devices that you'll see today are finished with plastic rather than metal. Apple thinks it might be able to solve the problem, and develop a technique to give its hardware this smooth and subtle look.
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The patent includes sketches of an iPhone, an Apple Watch, an iPad and a MacBook laptop of some kind, so it looks as though Apple is wanting to extend its matte black finish to just about every product it makes – though we'll have to wait and see if it's successful.
Paint it, black
As always with patent applications, there's no guarantee that Apple is going to work out a practical way of achieving a matte black finish, or that it will end up applying it to all of its product line. All a patent shows is what's on the drawing board.
Apple has previously released an iPhone with a matte black finish in the form of the iPhone 7 – but the color wasn't continued on other iPhones or extended to other products, presumably due to the difficulties involved in achieving it.
A matte black MacBook Air or MacBook Pro would perhaps be the most difficult product to bring to market, because of its size and complexity, but we don't have any sort of timescale on this happening. It could be a year or more before devices with the new finish actually go on sale - if they ever do.
From what we've seen in previous years with the iPhone, the Apple Watch and the other Apple gadgets, it's clear that Apple enjoys experimenting with the colors that it offers to consumers – and matte black could be the next one to be introduced.