Apple is reportedly developing a new iPhone design to ‘combine the strengths of metal, glass and plastic’

iPhone 14 Pro Max

Apple could be looking past the typical glass, aluminum and steel construction for iPhone models beyond the iPhone 15, says leaker yeux1122 (via Dohyun Kim). 

As yeux1122 tells it, Apple's got a team working on finding materials that are more resistant to drops, scuffs and also "contamination" than those currently found on iPhones. Among these new materials is titanium, which was already a metal tipped to be used on the iPhone 15 Ultra (although we may not see an Ultra model this year after all), and already found on the high-end Apple Watch Ultra. Regardless, it could also feature in the iPhone 15 Pro if the Ultra variant doesn't emerge this year.

There are also some more unusual materials being considered. Ceramics is one of them, which is an option already found on high-end Android phones from the past few years, such as the Oppo Find X5 Pro, or the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

yeux1122 also mentions Apple is looking into using plastics, though they don't tell us which kinds. Plastic is something Apple's always avoided using for iPhone bodies due to its cheaper feel than glass or metal. However, if it was used in tandem with more luxurious glass and metal, a future iPhone could perhaps strike a balance between looking good and being tough.

A possible change to the industry standard

For several years now, flagship Android phones have taken the same route as Apple when it comes to material choices. While we've seen advancements in toughened glass thanks to companies like Corning (makers of Gorilla Glass), this still won't stop your phone from shattering on contact when dropped on a hard surface from even a moderate height.

Of course, there are always cases and screen protectors on offer, with an especially wide selection on offer for iPhone owners. While these are an easy and cost-effective way to mitigate potential damage, that shouldn't stop phone makers from striving to make their products even stronger.

The next expected generation of iPhones, the iPhone 15, is expected to still have Ceramic Shield glass front and back, with the side rail made of aluminum on the basic model, and stainless steel on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Perhaps we'll see the fruits of Apple's apparent labor on new materials with the iPhone 16 next year, but chances are it'll still be a while yet before Apple takes these experiments and makes them an official part of its biggest-selling product.

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.