updated 10:35 am EST, Thu November 30, 2006
iPod mini Phone Patent
Apple is in the later stages of finalizing its cellphone design, according to a U.S. patent granted to the company this morning. The patent, which was filed on August 7th of this year, refers to a "handheld computing device" cellphone and media player combination with a radio-transparent shell that reflects a handset near the end of its development cycle, according to Electronista. The filing appears to confirm key aspects of the company's anticipated iPhone design, and greatly resembles the iPod mini or second-generation iPod nano with its construction from a "seamless tube" of ceramic materials such as aluminum that house internal components for both media playback and RF wireless communication.
Although the included illustrations present a device nearly identical to the now discontinued iPod mini, Apple emphasizes in its claim that the control scheme is not limited to the company's distinctive clickwheel. The company provides examples of alternate input devices such as a cellphone keypad, a trackball similar to that of the BlackBerry Pearl, or other mechanisms that may suit the phone's requirements. Questions also remain about key software functions such as the predicted iChat-style messaging and the particulars of the user interface.