[Image above] The sleek new jet black Apple iPhone 7. Credit: Apple
It’s that time of year again—time for an Apple harvest.
Apple unveiled the latest iteration of its tech products this week, debuting the new iPhone 7 and Series 2 Watches.
And the rumors were true—the new iPhone 7 drastically ditched the headphone jack to make room for a stereo set of speakers to improve audio quality. New iPhone users now have to make the move to wireless headphones or use a lightning port headphone adapter.
As with virtually every other smartphone iteration, the new iPhone 7 of course also boasts a better-than-ever battery and an improved camera, including new dual wide angle and telephoto lenses on the iPhone 7 Plus.
In addition to a new processor that runs twice as fast as the iPhone 6, the iPhone 7 also comes in a shiny new jet black finish, in addition to the more standard matte finishes.
But its materials remain largely unchanged—the body case of the new phone is still aluminum. So, as expected, we’ll have to wait until next year to see if glass gets its chance in the iPhone 8.
Apple instead made its big materials news this time around with the new Apple Watch Series 2—the special Edition version of the watch is now all-white and all-ceramic.
The other big news is that all Series 2 watches are completely waterproof, thanks to some clever engineering that uses sound to blast out residual water from the speakers. But let’s go back to that ceramic.
The new ceramic Edition watch replaces the previous expensive gold one—which we know also contained ceramics in the gold mix—that started at a steep price of $10,000. The new all-ceramic Series 2 Edition, however, starts at just $1,249.
While that’s still a hefty price tag, it may be a relatively small price to pay for the piece of mind of not having to worry about scratches on your fancy new smartwatch.
Apple boasts that the alumina–zirconia ceramic in its new Watch is four times as hard as stainless steel, which many previous Apple Watch wearers have complained about because of its relative scratchability.
But we know that ceramics are superior. Many other high-end watches already use ceramic materials because of their high strength and robust scratch resistance.
Apple’s incorporation of ceramics may not be that big of a surprise—about a year ago, we reported on Apple’s patent for making harder ceramics.
That patent detailed the company’s vacuum-based method for making ceramics from a slurry containing zirconia particles. Although we’re not sure that the patent details the same process used to make the new ceramic Apple Watch, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.
The patented method reduces porosity by using a vacuum to remove air bubbles from the ceramic slurry. Pores are a problem because they’re one factor that can introduce weaknesses in the materials by serving as starting points for crack formation. So removing bubbles in the slurry creates a harder ceramic.
According to company, “The process of creating the Apple Watch Edition case begins with a high-strength zirconia powder that’s combined with alumina to achieve its rich, white color. Each case is then compression molded, sintered, and polished using a diamond slurry, which results in a remarkably smooth surface and an exquisite shine.”
Catch a glimpse of the fruit’s latest releases in this short preview video from Apple.
Credit: Apple; YouTube