Prototype case designs coming out of Chinese accessory makers based upon leaked Foxconn intelligence are painting a dramatic picture of the next iPhone. If these leaks are right, the iPhone 5 won’t be a mere iPhone 4S, but rather a radical new device that not only boasts a curved, more ergonomic design and a larger display, but also revolutionizes one of the core aspects of the iOS experience… it totally gets rid of the Home button.
The prototype cases come by way of MobileFun.co.uk, the UK’s self-proclaimed largest online retailer of mobile phone accessories. They have connections all through the Chinese supply chain, which is how they got these images from a source who previously tipped them to the iPad 2’s design changes via leaked Chinese case prototypes weeks ahead of launch.
The biggest change spotted in the leaked case designs is that the iPhone 5 may totally ditch the home button in favor of a capacitive strip, or, as Mobile Fun describes it, a “touch-sensitive ovaloid area” which can be used for unique multi-touch gestures ranging from calling up the iPod controls, switching easily between apps, or calling up the home screen.
Another big change is the design of the phone, which has a curved back similar to that of the iPhone 3G. The advantages of this curved design over the iPhone 4 don’t just lie in more comfortable ergonomics: it also minimizes the attenuation issues caused by users bridging the iPhone’s antennas with their hand, which is what caused the whole Antennagate fiasco. The curved back could be made of aluminum, like the iPad 2, but it could also still be made out of glass.
In addition, another big change of the iPhone 5’s redesign is that all of the side buttons have been shifted to the opposite side of the phone. MobileFun speculates that these buttons, just like the home button, could be capacitive.
The case design also would seemingly confirm that Apple is shrinking the bezel on the iPhone 5, causing the display to grow from 3.7-inches to 4-inches, while retaining the same Retina Display resolution.
What’s so compelling about the design changes signified by these leaks is that they come from two separate Chinese case manufacturers, with agreeing in the specifics with the other about the iPhone 5’s shape and lack of buttons.
If these cases turn out to be based on real intel — and MobileFun seems confident that they are — the iPhone 5 might be the most revolutionary iPhone yet. Steve Jobs may very well have finally managed to do what he’s always wanted, and mastered the buttonless smartphone.