You might have noticed that black isn’t exactly black on many smartphones and laptops. It is more of a very dark grey, prone to showing smudges and scratches at the drop of a hat. That is perhaps why Apple insists on a naming scheme that uses Charcoal and Space Grey, instead of black, for many of their products including the iPhone and the MacBook line-up. It may just be that things are about to change, and we could have a genuinely matte black colored MacBook or iPhone in the near future. The US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has published a patent application by Apple talks about a portable electronic device with an anodized layer that includes an external surface that includes randomly distributed light-absorbing features that absorb visible light incident upon the external surface.
The thing with anodized layers is that not all colors can be achieved successfully, and a true matte black is one of those colours. The closest, Apple says in the patent, “is that anodized metal can have a relatively high floss finish, which is capable of specularly reflecting large amounts of visible light.” That means, glossy and reflective black colours. Those can be hard to maintain. Apple’s patent talks about new techniques for etching an external surface of the anodized layer to form light-absorbing features that absorb generally all visible light that falls on the surface. Metal oxide layers from a deposition process or electrochemical anodization of aluminum or an aluminum alloy are examples.
In case you haven’t forgotten, you’d remember the last time Apple attempted variations of black colour on an iPhone was back in 2016 with the Jet Black and Black on the iPhone 7 line-up. One was glossy, one was matte, and the former was notoriously difficult to maintain because smudges and scratches showed up rather easily. It would be incredible fun if Apple were to achieve something close to the Vantablack, a material developed by British company Surrey NanoSystems and is one of the darkest substances known as it absorbs 99.96% of light that falls on it. A proper black MacBook is the stuff of dreams, isn’t it?