iPhone X
A new patent details how a future iPhone X successor could feature a transparent speaker grille up front. Reuters/Elijah Nouvelage

Could the next-generation iPhone sport a transparent speaker grille that blends seamlessly with its display? Could it also come with a see-through window that will enhance the implementation of augmented reality? Well, Apple has just been granted a patent for those, so it’s somehow possible for an Apple smartphone to come with these advanced features.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted and published 44 patents for Apple. Among the numerous patents is one that details interesting features that could make it to the official hardware. The first feature is an almost invisible speaker grille that could be part of an iPhone X successor. This transparent grille is also being envisioned for the iPad series. Another feature is a hybrid secondary display that will serve as an AR window of an iPhone.

Regarding the transparent speaker grille, the patent states that the OLED display could be designed to have openings integrated into it. These openings could accommodate a camera, light sensor and a status indicator light. There could also be an opening for a front-facing speaker grille. Patently Apple pointed out that a similar patent that was issued in 2015 mentioned speaker membranes that could be integrated into the display. This display-based speaker is expected to be driven by transducers that obtain electrical audio signal input from circuitry inside the device.

When it comes to the AR window, Apple could be planning a hybrid iPhone that sports a clear display segment capable of viewing objects on the backside. The Cupertino giant included a couple of figures to illustrate how it plans to implement the new feature. One illustration shows an electronic device “having a transparent window region of the type that may be formed from an opening or openings in a display.”

Apple is also open to the idea of including more transparent window portions to its iPhone. It even indicated that an AR window may be formed by creating transparent window regions on both the front and back surfaces of a device. The company added that for the rear window opening, a clear glass plate or other transparent material could be used. The main goal of including this feature is to provide a more advanced way to view external objects simultaneously with AR objects that will be rendered by the display pixels.

Apple is known for patenting multiple inventions and technologies that it is working on or planning to introduce in future iterations of its products. However, Apple’s patented technologies do not always come to fruition. Hence, it’s possible that the transparent speaker grille and the AR window won’t make it to the iPhone X successor next year. Still, it’s good to know that Apple is trying a couple of things that could enhance both the design and the over-all functionality of its future iPhones.