Apple has patented an iPhone without the home button, and the device in question is believed to be the rumored cheaper variant of Cupertino's successful smartphone.
The United States Patent & Trademark Office recently detailed patent No. 8,364,032, which shows an iPhone that has no home button on its face or front-facing camera (a rear-facing camera is included). The device will be made out of a "clear plastic body," according to the filing.
Described as a "light isolating protective cover for small form factor electronic device," the patent states: "A portable device has a rear facing camera assembly and a front facing display assembly that includes at least a protective cover layer, a display stack that includes a plurality of display components arranged in a plurality of interconnected layers, the display stack providing an imaging service, and a flat support chassis arranged to provide support for the display stack."
"It should be appreciated, however, that other transparent materials such as clear plastic can be used," Apple described. "The back of the device is embroiled by a protective cover that Apple says "can wrap around and protect at least the rear portion of the portable device without adversely affecting an image capture process carried out by the rear facing camera assembly."
Apple filed for the application on February 21 2012, with the patent awarded on January 29, 2013. The filing itself lists Apple engineers Chong Yip Chow, Hongqin Zhang, Shizhe Shen and Michael DiVincent as principal inventors.
With Apple losing its place as the world's most valuable company amid disappointing iPhone sales, a cheap iPhone, although dismissed by Apple itself, is expected to generate over $6.5 billion in revenue for the firm. As well as a low-cost iPhone that may be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, Apple is also purportedly working on the 4.8-inch iPhone 'Math'.