Apple has just been granted 11 patents in China on the iPhone 4, according to Patently Apple, and there are some interesting potential consequences for future iPhone design, the site says.
The 11 patents are each for slightly varying designs, which could, say Patently Apple, help strengthen rumors that the next iPhone will have a metal back. One patent emphasizes the iPhone 4's stainless steel band, for example, while others cover the glass cover, button positions and more.
This means that if the next iPhone does sport a metal back, any new patents would only have to be updated for the new materials, rather than be redone for the whole new piece of hardware. That saves time and money later on, and right now it means that Apple is ready to make changes to the iPhone's design if needed.
The patents were filed in China late last year and finally granted this past week.