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Designs similar to those with square, flat edges that were originally believed to be for Apple Watch Series 7 have been presented in a new patent application.
Prior to launch, the Apple Watch Series 7 was expected to adopt the same flat design that is currently found on the iPhone 13 and iPad Pro. The allegedly leaked renders showed a more square chassis, and other leak reports claimed the same.
Now, a recently revealed patent application shows that Apple has at least considered this style of design for the Apple Watch. “Portable electronic device with glass shell” was originally filed by Apple in May 2020, and 22 of its 28 designs correspond at least in part to the preceding claims.
The remaining designs are either components or close cross sections that could apply to both square and more curved sashes.
Patent drawings are very often purely illustrative, sometimes little more than sketches, so it is the text that is most important in any patent application. And here, Apple is much more circumspect about the watch chassis, or what it calls the “shell.”
“The sidewalls of the shell … may define flat side surfaces,” the patent application states, “or they may be curved, rounded, semicircular, or any other suitable shape.”
“The transition from the sidewalls to the top or front wall of the hull,” he continues, “can be sharp (eg, defining a distinct vertex or edge), curved, chamfered, rounded, or the like.”
In about 18,000 words of patent application, Apple only uses the word “flat” three times. Each is also part of a sentence which qualifies how the various points of the patent can be applied equally to flat or curved frames.
However, it is also said that the housing “may have a generally rectangular shape when viewed from the front”.
“Other shapes are also being considered, such as generally square shapes (where all sides are roughly the same length),” he concludes.
Apple files hundreds of patents each year, and even if they are granted, it is not certain that a product will result. To cite just one example, Apple and other patenting companies may be more intent on protecting themselves against future litigation than launching specific devices.
Nonetheless, those few descriptions and the nearly two dozen designs suggest that the square design was at least highly regarded by Apple.