Apple has at least considered making more cases along the lines of its iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case. The company has filed for a patent (number 9,735,595) for a “single piece case with a battery and a hinge.”
In the patent filing, Apple notes that accessory devices can be used as a protective cover for an electronic device (the iPhone) as well as provide an aesthetic appearance. And some accessory devices may include a power supply designed to provide electrical current to the smartphone. Apple says that, also, typical accessory devices include at least one layer of material disposed across the entire accessory device. For example, a region of the accessory device designed to receive the electronic device may include a rigid polymeric material, such as plastic, disposed across the entire region. This offers a continuous, uniform protection to the electronic device.
In order to insert or extract the iPhone in a way that doesn’t damage it, a user is generally required to detach one structural feature of the accessory device from another structural feature. This allows for a straight insertion or extraction of the electronic device. However, an accessory device with two (or more) structural features may lead to losing or misplacing at least one of the structural features, according to Apple.
One solution is to pull the iPhone from the accessory device at an angle. However, an angular extraction of an electronic device from an accessory device can lead to other issues. For example, when the accessory device includes the power source, a connector, or plug, must be inserted into the electronic device.
The angular extraction causes a bending moment on the connector that may cause the connector to break off from the accessory device and remain inside the electronic device. Apple thinks a single piece case with a battery and a hinge is the answer.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.