Apple has been toying with the idea of MacBooks with built-in cellular connectivity since 2007. Although Steve Jobs said a year later that the company had ‘considered’ it but decided against it at the time, the company continues to file patents for the idea, the latest one filed last year and granted today.
The patent describes how the gap between the main and lid section of a MacBook could be used to provide an aperture for what Apple describes as Isolated Cavity Antennas …
While the patent mentions existing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas, it also makes specific reference to cellular antennas which would logically refer to LTE.
An electronic device such as electronic device 10 of FIG. 1 may contain wireless circuitry. For example, electronic device 10 may contain wireless communications circuitry that operates in long-range communications bands such as cellular telephone bands and wireless circuitry that operates in short-range communications bands such as the 2.4 GHz Bluetooth band and the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi wireless local area network bands.
Apple covers all the bases, by throwing in everything from NFC – as used by the iPhone and Apple Watch for Apple Pay – to GPS signals.
The patent also describes how the same gap between upper and lower sections of the MacBook could house speakers, though sound would still be projected through grilles in the base of the machine.
A slot-shaped opening may separate the upper and lower housing. A flexible printed circuit with ground traces may bisect the slot-shaped opening to form first and second slots. Cavity antennas may be aligned with the slots. Each cavity antenna may include a hollow carrier with a pair of speakers.
Apple has been awarded a number of different patents for MacBook cellular connectivity over the years, with Patently Apple – which spotted this latest one – pulling together a whole range of them.
Although Jobs felt that adding cellular options would add complexity to the MacBook range by requiring different models for different carriers, the Apple SIM approach the company has since taken with iPads would eliminate this concern. Personal hotspots of course provide one solution for those of us who want Internet access while mobile, but I’m with Chance in preferring the neater option of built-in LTE – which could provide another point of differentiation for future MacBook Pro models.
As ever, check out our MacBook Pro (2016) guide for everything we’re expecting from this year’s models.