How Apple Will (And Won’t) Colorize The iPhone 5S

iPhone-5S-iPhone-6-Couleurs-908x865

Nice try, but no, the iPhone 5S isn’t going to look like this.

When it comes to iOS devices, Apple’s long adhered to a (slightly modified) adage of Henry Ford: “You can have it any color, as long as it’s white or black.”

With the 2012 iPod touch refresh, though, Apple showed for the first time they were willing to start making iOS devices in different colors. From there, it was only a matter of time that the inevitable rumors started circling that the iPhone 5S would come in a swatch of different colors.

This concept by Alexander Kormishin imagines what an iPhone 5S in color would look like, but we think he’s got it all wrong. Here’s why.

The problem with Kormishin’s concept is that it basically assumes that Apple will change the design of the iPhone 5S substantially from the iPhone 5’s design. And we know Apple won’t do that.

Why? There’s a reason Apple only significantly changes the design of the iPhone every couple of years, and it’s because even a slight change in the design of the world’s most popular phone requires months of ramp up, millions of dollars in testing and introduces a slew of new problems in Apple’s manufacturing supply chain. It takes time to master the process of mass-producing a device as intricately designed, chamfered and watch-like as the iPhone 5: Apple’s not going to throw that design out before they have to.

So if the iPhone 5S comes in colors, it will still look much like an iPhone 5. In fact, it would look like this:

anostyle_06

Those are iPhone 5s that have been modified by a company called Anostyle for a price, and it shows the process Apple would likely use to color the iPhone 5S. Anything made of aluminum can be anodized to make it a different color relatively simply (here’s how the process works).

What would cause Apple the biggest problem in making the iPhone 5S in different colors is the glass. In the past, Apple has had a great deal of difficulty even getting the white iPhone 4 out the door. The reasons for this are complicated, but essentially, the biggest difficulty Apple faced in making the white iPhone 4 was preventing light from leaking through the glass onto the camera sensor. The problem was such a doozy it took Apple ten months to get the white iPhone 4 out the door.

I don’t see Apple being willing to throw open the box of potential problems that coloring the glass on the iPhone 5S would cause them. It would be better instead to do what they’ve done with the 2012 iPod touches: anodize the aluminum with different colors and leave the glass either white or black.

Of course, there’s nothing to say Apple will colorize the iPhone 5S at all. They might wait until the iPhone 6, and design that handset with color in mind from the get-go. Or they might never release the iPhone in colors at all. If the rumors are true and the iPhone 5S does come in different colors, though, there’s only one way they are going to do it.

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  • technochick

    This might be the first time in months that CoM has taken a rumor and rather than just spewed it out as hit fodder, really thought and discussed it. THIS is what CoM used to be and what it should be. Well thought out entries and not just fodder or ads pretending to be columns.

  • joewaylo

    I think it should be the standard white and black they already have, then add all the limited edition colors. All the awareness bows we know. There’s certainly a lot of awareness bows they can put into their models.

  • iSteve

    I would love to have a RED iPhone 5S….

  • Steven Quan

    Wow $249 to change color of iP5 to your color of choice (via Anostyle). Bit steep there but at least it will be unique.

  • Bruce Schrock

    Actually I kinda like the first rendering of how they could make the iPhone… Not only would it be more beautiful but also more pleasing to hold with those rounded edges. But i hope they wait till my contract is up for any major updates.

  • Bruce Schrock

    Actually I kinda like the first rendering of how they could make the iPhone… Not only would it be more beautiful but also more pleasing to hold with those rounded edges. But i hope they wait till my contract is up for any major updates.

  • DevonTyson

    Changing the color of the aluminum does not mean they have to change the color of the glass. They didn’t change the color of the glass with the iPod Touch 5. They would keep the glass either white or black and give us multiple aluminum colors to choose from.

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 wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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