How Apple eliminated the iPhone 14 Pro bangs with a new patent
The bangs on iPhone 14 will be replaced by the "pill and punch" design found on the "Pro" pro model, while the base model will retain the familiar bangs design - but in a smaller size. In both cases, Apple has somehow managed to squeeze all the necessary components into a much smaller space. A newly published Apple patent application likely explains the simple method used to achieve this goal.
The USPTO has published an Apple patent application related to Apple's iPhone that may use a light-folding projector to reduce the footprint of components to maximize the display area and thus reduce the size dimensions of the iPhone. This could be how Apple will reduce their upcoming iPhone 14 browsing bangs and take on a new look with a camera cutout and pill-shaped area as presented in the cover graphic above.
Apple states in their patent application that the use of a light folding projector could reduce the use of imaging and sensing components of the device in order to increase the display area of the device, such as devices with bezels.
In particular, the use of light folding elements provides greater flexibility in positioning the IR light emitter relative to other components such as the IR detector and front camera lens.
What Apple is describing is the use of a prism. Instead of placing the infrared emitter in the notch/filling area, it is placed on the side below the display and the prism is used to turn the beam around 90 degrees. The prism takes up less space than the emitter and can provide smaller recesses or cutouts for other components.
The same result can be achieved with a mirror located at 45 degrees, but one of the illustrations in the patent application does specifically mention a prism. For infrared light, quartz glass is used.
If Apple wanted to use a mirror instead, it would use a polished metal mirror, not a glass one. Aluminum, copper, silver and gold are all used for infrared mirrors. Dialectically coated mirrors tuned to specific wavelengths can also be used, but this raises the complexity and cost.