The Nothing Phone 1 again sparked interest in transparent phone aesthetics, but modders have been at it for a while. The latest experiment to come out of the enthusiast community is an iPhone 14 with a transparent rear panel. Photos of an iPhone 14 with innards visible underneath are making rounds of Twitter, but the identity of the modder remains unclear.
The wireless charging coil surrounded by the magnetic MagSafe ring, battery pack, Taptic Engine, and the Lightning port assembly are among the hardware elements that are clearly visible. It looks pretty neat, but if you desperately want it but can’t find the buyer auctioning it online, you can still capture some of that magic with DBrand’s Something range of skin and case for your iPhone. It’s a blatant rip-off of Nothing’s signature design, but it’s sure as hell looks cool.
iPhone 14 change to transparent pic.twitter.com/ce4qJrQUdq
— fix Apple 🍏 (@lipilipsi) September 22, 2022
The transparent modding job isn’t surprising, as teardowns have revealed that after years, Apple has finally eased the scope of repairs with an updated internal assembly for the rear glass panel. It is also not surprising that we haven’t seen many transparent mod jobs since the iPhone 11 series, which was a stark design departure from the iPhone XS.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should order one of Apple’s self-repair kits, 3D print a see-through back panel, and go to town on a DIY transparent back panel modding adventure on your brand-new iPhone 14. Apple still requires parts to be matched via its own proprietary software, and any damage might end up voiding the warranty.
A long history of see-through modding
The transparent modding craze for Apple smartphones first gained traction with the iPhone 4, and a year later, iFixit was selling a whole DIY kit targeted at the iPhone 4S. Transparent mod kits for the iPhone 5 soon came out, and the iPhone 5s also got a similar treatment. AliExpress was even selling transparent mod kits for iPhones for under $10 back in the day.
Things got a tad interesting when Apple adopted a curvy metallic look with the iPhone 6, but as you can see in this EverythingApplePro clip, mods were being sold for this model, too. The iPhone 7 was no different. Over time, the transparent modding jobs got even more refined, as shown in this video covering a transparent back iPhone 8.
As Apple entered the Face ID era with a fresh design on the iPhone X and carried it for another year on the iPhone XS, modders further improved their work with transparent rear panel replacements. But Apple changed things around with the iPhone 11, and not in a good way. As iFixit notes in its iPhone 11 teardown, “rear glass can only be replaced with a full case swap.”
The trend continued, and even got riskier, as Apple threw MagSafe into the mix and remained ever generous with the glue inside. Take this iPhone 12 transparent mod result, and how unpolished it looks. Looks like the iPhone 14 is going to bring back the good old days of clear back panel mod jobs.
Apple is dreaming transparent, in patents
What about Apple? Well, it looks like the company has at least given a thought to the idea of transparent iPhones. Last year, PatentlyApple spotted an Apple filing describing iPhones with an all-glass enclosure. A somewhat similar glass-heavy design plan was also unearthed for the iPad in patent documents.
Another particularly ambitious patent document hints at Apple dreaming about an all-glass wraparound iPhone with a transparent display assembly. Going a step further, another Apple patent details an idea in which the top portion of the screen offers a see-through AR view captured by imagery from the rear camera.
These patents may never see the light of the day, but a well-done transparent back panel replacement for the iPhone 14 is a sign that fans have at least something to look forward to.