How The iPhone 5 Will Lose The Home Button To Gain A Bigger 4-Inch Display [Video]

How The iPhone 5 Will Lose The Home Button To Gain A Bigger 4-Inch Display [Video]

Rumors have pegged the iPhone 5 as having a larger 4-inch display since summer of last year, but in order to put a 4-inch display into the iPhone, Apple’s going to have to radically change the design of the device.

They have two choices. Apple can either make the entire device physically bigger… or they can lose the iconic home button. But if Apple does, how would anyone control their device?

The video above is a concept by designer Kris Groen in which the home button has been totally removed and replaced by two separate home bumpers on the side of the device. Simply squeeze both in unison to access all the functionality of the home button.

There’s reasons to like this design, including the fact that it allows the iPhone to have a bigger display in a roughly similar form factor. It would also allow the iPhone to have stereo sound in theory, making room for another speaker thanks to pulling the guts of the home button mechanism out of the device.

Here’s the problem with Groen’s design, though: Apple would never go with this. For one thing, Apple favors simplicity, and they’d be ditching an iconic and fundamentally simple element of the iPhone for a more complicated mechanism. No way. Apple would rather just lose the home button entirely and replace it with on-screen elements than require people to push two buttons at once.

Second? Think of the havoc this would cause with case and bumper makers. The home button needs to be the second most readily accessible part of the iPhone short of the touchscreen, but if you wanted to use an iPhone case with this design, the home bumpers would always be partially obscured and made harder to reach by a thin layer of surrounding rubber.

So nice try, Groen, but I think we can count this design out. Apple may well ditch the home button next generation, but if they do, they won’t replace it with a more convoluted mechanism: they’ll embrace a totally buttonless design, as Google already has with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. But unlike Google? They won’t fuck it up.

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  • iAidan

    looks like an ugly piece of shit.

  • 12yake

    “But unlike google, they won’t fuck it up!”

    Not very professional, but funny nonetheless 

  • nickhowland

    Am I the only person who doesn’t think the iPhone needs a larger screen?

  • 12yake

    absolutely not. I agree with you 100%. bigger screen equals bigger device which equals less convenient which equals more battery used which equals etc, etc. It seems the trend lately has switched from going smaller to going bigger! I think apples phone right now is perfect. Physically, anyway….

  • w4lktheline

    That’s not very Apple-like. Don’t think we’ll see something similar to this. (The buttons on the left and on the right are VERY unlikely.)

  • jjk

    Going away from gestures and back to buttons?  Won’t happen.

  • macgizmo

    Removing the home button from the glass front makes sense for expanding the screen without expanding the the device itself. A simple button on the side could easily replace it, but I don’t see Apple doing something like this.

  • LukealiciousX

    Unah, I don’t really like it. I would prefer the size that the current iPhone 4S is. If the iPhone 5 turns out to be that size, it’ll be much too big to fit into pockets.  Anyways the iPhone concept is for calling and such, not for playing games.

  • Steve Segaric

    I like it. I think the phone should get a bigger screen, and they could probably do it without making the actual body any (or too much) bigger. I do hope the phone also gets more thinner, and lighter. As much as I love the features of the 4 and 4S I like the feel of holding the 3 and 3S much better.

  • Vincent Flament

    Let me make this clear: I don’t want a bigger Iphone!!! 3.5 inch is fine!

  • prof_peabody

    No offence, but this is an absolutely ridiculous design.  It will never happen in a million years.  Even if I believed it had any merit as a design the whole argument presented here for doing it is complete nonsense.  

    1) – there are really no believable rumours of a 4″ screen on the next iPhone
    2) – even if there were, the home button does not have to be removed as a result
    3) – even if it was, two tiny, almost impossible to see buttons on either side is *not* a solution.
    4) – an iPhone without a home button leaves out all the blind people who can currently use an iPhone without problems but won’t be able to use the new one.  

  • Rob Williams

    But so true.  Microsoft did face recognition better with Kinect than Google’s done so far, and Kinect’s been out a long time.

  • catbusrider

    Nope-well, actually I don’t care about the screen size as much as the overall size-I think the current iPhone 4S is about as big a phone as I’d want.

  • Christopher Watson

    4″ screen will never happen. You can’t use it comfortably with 1 hand. How much money do you think apple spent researching the best screen size before the release of the FIRST iPhone. Wont happen and these “rumours” come around every year. Just ignore them. 

  • Pierre Estienne

    This is shit. We can’t replace one button by two. It’s not Apple.

  • Arvid

    HaHa. GTFO “But unlike Google? They won’t fuck it up.” Who is this fucked up?

    @All: You only like the 3.5″, because you never used another screensize. I cant use something smaller than my 4.65″ (Galaxy Nexus).

  • Demonstr8r

    I like the bigger screen, but there are several things I don’t like about this conceptual design. I don’t like the two button concept for many reasons, some of which have been pointed out by others already. I also do not like the plastic volume buttons on the iPhone. Sure plastic buttons probably increase margins, but seem very cheap, which is not in keeping with the current design of the iPhone.

  • ddevito

    Ha Ha. I thought anything larger then 3.5″ was too big for the girly iFan hands.
    And they say everyone copies Apple. A larger iPhone will be anything but.

    The side button concept is very original and intuitive

  • BouchardAnthony

    I hate this idea. I wouldn’t want to use more buttons on a touch device.

  • ddevito

    Question: If someone at Samsung is watching this and incorporates it into their next phone does it count as copying?

    lol

  • MacGoo

    Apple does not follow fads. 4″+ screens are a fad – a ploy by Android marketers to make Android appear “better” by being bigger. Fads pass, and best practices dictate the larger, longer trends. Apple usually anticipates these best practices and best use cases far in advance of other manufacturers. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see them stick with a sub-4″ screen. They have a long history of telling people what they want rather than asking them, and it’s worked out well for them so far.

  • emrk/? ??

    Apple had done that on mighty mouse already. Looking at the magic mouse now, I think that squeeze idea was not a very popular one. Will Apple do something they ditched recently? I don’t think so.

  • ddevito

    “they’ll embrace a totally buttonless design, as Google already has with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. But unlike Google? They won’t fuck it up.”

    Wow. Some great journalistic professionalism going on here. 

    The Nexus buttonless design is fantastic and actually quite intuitive. The buttons adjust to the orientation to the screen, disappear when watching videos and reappear when done (you know, what iFans call “like magic”). I’m glad Google did it first, hopefully they patented it. 

    Apparently the site author here is butt hurt Google did it first.

  • ddevito

    ” it’ll be much too big to fit into pockets.”

    Stop wearing skinny jeans

  • ddevito

    ” it’ll be much too big to fit into pockets.”

    Stop wearing skinny jeans

  • Cuata

    ^ Wow, thats really not funny.

  • Shane Bryson

    And let me make this clear, the screen size is the only thing I dislike about my iPhone. I want a larger screen.

  • Top_Gear

    That’s the same thing people said about the iPhone.

  • Ktodack

    My simple calculation shows that Apple should have no problem moving from a 3.5″ to 4″ screen without changing the XY dimensions of the body by much at all. Current body size is 4.5″ by 2.31″ with a screen dimension of 2.95″ by 1.97″ to produce the 3.5″ diagonal. Moving to a 4″ diagonal produces a screen size of approx 3.3″ by 2.2″. Looks like the body width would need to be widened maybe a 1/10th of an inch, hardly noticeable. There is still no need to change where the home button is. Seems to me a lot of teeth gnashing for nothing about the move to a 4″ screen.

  • Loke2112

    Tried the Nexus and returned it. All my nerd friends convinced me to give it a go and there is no comparison. Android is way to fragmentet as apposed to the iPhone and it’s seamless intuitive functionality. I would never consider a Droid after my personal experience. 

  • ddevito

    So your experience on ONE phone somehow translated into a fragmented experience? How exactly does ONE person experience fragmentation on ONE device? And what exactly was less\not intuitive about the Galaxy Nexus? (If it was the Galaxy Nexus you tried).

    But at least you came out of your iCave and tried something else, and for that I applaud it. 

  • Loke2112

    OK I agree fragmented wasn’t the best choice of words.

    I do however thing fragmentation is a big problem for Android with so many different manufacturers making all different sized phones etc.

    It was the Galaxy Nexus and all I can say is I just didn’t like much about it. It seemed cheap the way the thin plastic back snapped on to it. I tried uploading a video to Youtube and it failed miserably. Text on web pages didn’t auto fit to the screen. I was supposed to get the NFL for free with 4g yet it wasn’t compatible. I remember it just being more difficult to navigate my way around. Seemed like I had to think too much where as the iPhone is just so simplified.

    Like I said all my Nerd friends love their Droids. I’m not a nerd so I would prefer simplicity and smooth functionality with the rest of my Apple devices over freedom and control.

  • JaimeMicha

    whoever is in charge of this exact concept/”design” has no idea about design, functionality or the most important, ergonomics… Apple is not going to grow the screen size unless we humans grow our hands

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    While I don’t believe Google “fucked up the buttonless design, they did muff up pretty bad due to their manufacturers. Companies are still building phones with………BUTTONS, and they’re supposed to get Ice Cream Sandwhich. This “Feature” is only reserved for phones not yet unveiled. And that’s if those unveiled phones even ship with the newest OS. Apple will do it better, no doubt.

  • jared

    haha this design looks cool but is so unpractical id actually much prefer a 3.5 inch screen with simple gestures added in ios6 and the home button removed (if the gestures work well) the last line was funny ;)

  • cooksta32676

    The screens are already being made. There were leaks last month of a Chinese contractor fulfilling an order for 45 million ultra resolution IPS LCD screens. Pretty sure I can guess who it is. My 4.3″ screen works perfect in one hand, and the phone is less than 1/4′ longer than ip4s.

  • Jason

    Why would Apple ditch a single button, only to replace it with two? Clearly clueless!

  • Arman Safari

    I promise you that dude have NEVER touched galaxy nexus. Just an angry isheep. 

  • Arman Safari

    ^ What he said!

  • Ryeley Kuykendall

    This design is completely impractical. 

  • fortninety

    I dunno. I laughed. Also, valid question.

  • Alan Goldman

    This is a ridiculous concept.  What is you have a case?  The way to do it is with gestures, end of story.  In any case this phone looks stubby and just plain but ugly compared to the earlier iphone 5 mock ups from last year.

  • ??nD ??os??A

    Copying yes, patent violation no. In the US the folks that came up with this concept have a year to file…too late for most of the world. Once you disclose something publicly it’s fair game for all. 
    But why would anyone want this.  People will be accidentally hitting home all the time. Then they will try to not hold the phone so tight, or in weird ways to prevent accidental home button hit.  This will just lead to more dropped and broken phones. 
    What would be really nice is a phone that looks great and doesn’t need a case.  Why can’t someone do that?

  • volodoscope

    Although it is creative way to use iPhone it goes totally against Steve Jobs’s vision for button-less phone user interface. If anything Apple will be taking buttons away from iPhone, not adding.

  • Mark Emery

    V Glad you don’t work for Apple.

  • volodoscope

    No wonder 60% of Android users looking to buy iPhone as their next phone. I always look at technology this way: “If my mom can use it, it’s made for large, wide consumer base.”

  • volodoscope

    I used 4.65 inch screen and it’s impossible to use with one hand. Way too awkward in my pocket too.

  • volodoscope

    Wow. When first iPhone came out it was the hugest, largest screen on any smartphone. All Blackberry users were like “ahh too big, will fail” now it’s the other way around and Android users are like “ahh too small, will fail.” Seems like Nerds will never be happy with any kind of technology for the masses.

  • volodoscope

    most people don’t care. most buy phones for their functions, not how big the screen is or how many processors it has. that’s more for nerds who will complain about any possible thing.

  • volodoscope

    that’s why people come to this forum over other filtered Engadget or Gizmodo Nazis.

  • LARG3HAM

    It’s all about multi-touch gestures. I use the home button less and less now that I can pinch to close apps to return to home, switch between apps by swiping left or right with four fingers, or revealing multitasking bar by pushing up with four fingers. It’s well integrated. Love it.

  • nickhowland

    Glad I’m not the only one then!

  • fahminoor

    Can it make a call like a normal phone?

  • Ryan Mahan

    My iPhone 4 doesn’t require a case. Maybe it’s because, unlike most of the population, I’m competent enough to use it and not drop it all the time.

  • BB Caspian

    Too difficult to use with 2 buttons on the sides…and it’s a step backwards in terms of technology…We are in the gestures here….the less buttons the better.

  • Shane Bryson

    I wouldn’t hold my breath on that Chinese leak. Remember all the case manufactures that took millions in losses because they jumped the gun and made cases for the iPhone 5, based on Chinese leaks? Yeah, and we ended up with the 4s in the same form factor. 

  • Shane Bryson

    Never say never. 

  • Shane Bryson

    Accidents happen, dick head. I hope you shatter the shit out of that thing.

  • Seth Chapman

    One big issue here.

    Where are the volume buttons? Those are really the only buttons that *have* to be physically on the device.

  • Robert X

    I can only hope not…

  • Liviu Oprescu

    Take Six… and try again.  Great example of innovation for it’s own sake.  Given that the device is clearly wider than the current iPhone, holding the phone in a manner that’s both squeezable and thumb-navegable will be rather uncomfortable.  Never mind structural issues.  Time and Photoshop skills, yes.  Good idea, no.  

  • techgeek01

    We are going to a “buttonless” society. (well on the front at least)

    This year, Android (should) be going full force in the “buttonless” world.
    Windows Phone will be going to go “buttonless” (I predict).

    Basically, Physical buttons will be replaced with software buttons.

    The question is: Will Apple follow that?

    A buttonless display will allow for the maximum screen estate, but at the same time allow for the smallest phone possible. (with that display size)

    More complex smartphones become, larger the display is needed(ish), since simply a smartphone is a pocketable computer.

    And with the Galaxy Note, we will begin to see more phones with 5+ inch display.  Matter of fact, I won’t be surprised if we begin to see phones pushing 5.5″ inches, and within the year, pushing 6+ inches.

    The Original Samsung Galaxy Tab was Samsung’s first stab at the tablet market.  It was a 7″ tablet.  But the European version had the phone portion left in.  Meaning you were able to do “phone calls” with your 7 inch tablet.  Of course it was quite bulky.  But now, it would be possible to make one with super thin bezels and super thin.  Run ICS on it, you have software buttons.  Done properly, this could be a pocketable device.

    Larger phones allow for a tablet like experience.  One of the advantages with a 7 inch tablet is that it’s far more pocketable and portable compared to an iPad.  What happens if you take a 7 inch tablet, make it even smaller and add phone functionality?  You have a very portable tablet and a phone.  And much easier to use.

    Now back to the iPhone.  Will Apple remove the home button and increase the screen size?  One group says, of course, to match the competition.  Another group says hell no, because apple knows what the perfect screen size and the best way to interact (home button wise).

    Half of me say, Apple will keep the home button and 3.5 inch display.  Because They are Apple.  half of me says, Apple will increase the display size because otherwise if they don’t they will be left in the dust.

    Personally? unless Apple increases the screen size (massively) I won’t even bother looking at an iPhone.  For my next phone, I’m looking at something over 5 inches.  And if someone decides to make a 7 inch phone/tablet hybrid (like a Galaxy Note) I might have to jump for one of those.

    But I think Apple concept of one of their users is that they would have: iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air/MacBook Pro, iMac.Me?  I want 7″ inch Phone/tablet hyrbid, 17 inch ultrabook/laptop hybrid (ultra thin bezels, thin, light, but still packing power) and a desktop (monitor, desktop).But, I’m different.But, we have to also realize, technology continuously evolve and what may have been perfect 5 years (even a year ago) could be outdated.  So is a phone with a 3.5 inch display in the future still?  is a tablet with a 9.7 inch display still in the future?  You might be surprised. 

  • Raymond Duong

    Fatass iphone. Nobody will ever touch that over the current iPhone 4s 

  • jpv41193

    I think a small rectangle button instead would be cool. It would give them a little extra space at the bottom but would retain the same level of simplicity and functionality.

  • Michael Wells

    Might just be interested in checking out this new tech magazine…
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/

  • Don Pope

    Dumb idea.
    Go to a Best Buy and watch people try to use all those Android tablets. They can’t figure out how  to start them. If they are already running, it is not obvious how to switch to another app. The iPad has no such problem because of the Home button. The same goes for Android phones. Hand someone an Android phone for the first time and they don’t know how to unlock it. I’ve yet to see anyone have a hard time with an iPhone, and again the Home button is a huge factor.

    Those two little pips on the side would be horrible.

  • Rmlgtp

    Once again, knew this would be a brownlee story by the idiocracy of the title before even clicking. Stop stating your opinions as facts please. Use logic. Apple will more than likely not ditch the home button. Its great to have and is simple, which is apples philosophy. One button is more simple than two and more simple than none, capacitive or otherwise.

  • WavidPardlaw

    Its likely
    Verizon will do that, but its better to wait & see IF they actually
    do. Can’t answer the differences because the phone has not been
    announced as yet, but will be on Tuesday.
     

  • Michael Von Verrenkamp

    The additional screen size looks stupid but I do like some of the concepts of the dual button system but I’m sure it could be done more elegantly than this using screen gestures. Nice idea but needs to be tightened up.

  • hspito

    It could look better but the main reason I like this design is because if you leave the microphone in the current location but add a speaker in the bottom (in the current location of the home button) then when you turn the phone in landscape you have true stereo layout on the phone, the top speaker can be lowered to 1/2 the volume when you put the phone on your ear suitable for phone calls.

  • Vinay Chavan ?

    It will probably never happen, there are some reasons,
    1. Apple will not put button on the metal, as button in something so continuous will not look good.
    2. It looks easy to operate on iPhone but it won’t be as easy on iPad. Apple will not fragment their devices.
    3. Screen size is very huge. won’t be operable with just one hand.
    4. Buttons on both sides won’t be usable by disabled people.
    5. Apple will not like to make people feel that they are trying to copy rival by increasing screen size.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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