A newly uncovered patent seems to suggest Apple is working to remove the notch from the iPhone. LetsGoDigital published the below image of several Apple patents regarding user interface, adding dates to show the December 2019’s patents include iPhone sketches without the notch.

For good measure, the far-right image shows that Apple previously did file patents with notches, showing that the change might suggest 2020’s iPhones will lose the notch.

Phones simply used to have bezels. We didn’t even used to mention them in phone reviews because they were always there. You needed a space at the top and bottom of the display to house important things like the speakers, earpiece, cameras and headphone jack.

Image: LetsGoDigital

While it wasn’t the first phone to do it, the iPhone X in 2017 popularised the edge to edge phone design now prevalent – by adding a notch to the top of the screen.

This housed the front camera and Face ID biometrics, allowing Apple to push the display nearer to the edges of the handset.

The patents don’t show where the front cameras are, leading to speculation that Apple might be working to put them underneath the display. Xiaomi and Oppo have shown the technology on prototypes but it isn’t ready for the mainstream yet.

The report speculates that under-display cameras, sensors and fingerprint reader would enable Apple to create a full screen phone with no notch. But we think it’s a little premature. Apple managed to help popularise the notch, but it wasn’t first. Nor do we think it will be first with under-display cameras.

Apple usually waits till tech is good enough to work very well before putting it om the iPhone, unlike Android manufacturers who tend to push boundaries with design sooner than Apple.

It could be that the patents have uncovered the iPhone design of 2021, meaning 2020’s iPhone will retain the notch. Either way, it’s an interesting spot.