Apple Could Go With Aluminum Back for iPhone 5

Apple Could Go With Aluminum Back for iPhone 5

Although the results are undeniably gorgeous, Apple’s decision to switch from the 3GS’s plastic back to a glass one for the iPhone 4 has been a disastrous one. Not only did Apple have to put out the fires on “Glassgate” shortly after the fiasco of Antennagate thank to the the glass backing’s tendency to crack when used with a slider-style iPhone case, but the glass backing has also proven to be a nightmare for Apple when it came to releasing the white iPhone 4, thanks to the glass’ tendency to leak light onto the camera sensor.

Reports now indicate that Apple wants to ditch the glass in the iPhone 5, instead moving back to the aluminum back found in the original iPhone. Cupertino ditched aluminum in the iPhone 3G because of wireless and cellular connectivity issues, but it’s thought that advances in antenna design might have mitigated the connectivity drawbacks of aluminum.

According to the report, the iPhone 5’s antenna will be housed in the Apple logo, just like WiFi works on the iPad. The iPad, of course, requires a small plastic strip for better 3G transmission: it’s unknown if Apple would be able to eschew that less than aesthetically pleasing requirement for a smaller device.

Apple’s reasons for considering the change go deeper than just Glassgate and the white iPhone. The glass-backing on the iPhone 4 also makes the phone considerably heavier than it otherwise might be, while aluminum would allow for a much lighter and slimmer design like that of the iPod Touch or iPad 2.

  • Lordthree

    ““Glassgate” shortly after the fiasco of Antennagate thank to the the glass backing’s tendency to crack when used with a slider-style iPhone case”

    I’m not sure this was ever a real issue.

  • OmeedA

    It wasn’t, since no one in Canada experienced this problem. Clearly a network issue.

  • Wirehedd

    agreed.

  • Wirehedd

    agreed.

  • Thiswayup999

    What happened to LiquidMetal?

  • Mike Rathjen

    I really like the flat back of the iPhone 4, and how it is rock-solid stable on the desk because of it.

    Aluminum back or not, I hope the iPhone continues to have a flat back.

  • fred

    I live in canada with rogers, and I confirm that iPhone 4′s antenna problem is real. Both my phone and my brothers suffer from this issue, and is not carrier related.

  • harshbutfair

    Looking at the mock-up photos, I can’t help feeling that it looks like a step backwards. Apple have returned to designs in the past – the iPod Shuffle being an example – but it’s more likely that they will want to keep the solid feel of the iPhone 4 in future models, and the reassuring weight of it

  • kkscom

    Yay is my response! i actually thought when they went with the plastic back from aluminum backing that it was a downgrade. The aluminum is stronger and looks better!

  • lywell

    I love the mock up. However, I don’t know how signals would get through the aluminum back? They needed a black plastic strip on the original iPhone as well, and on the iPad 3G. I know they have overcome black strips with Wi-Fi somehow, with the new iPod Touch and the Wi-Fi only iPad, but it seems that 3G needs more transparency…
    Who knows the real will be? There are so many rumors everyday: http://www.ifunia.com/news/?s=iphone+...
    just as rumors said there will be an 7 inch iPad 2, and at last it’s 9.7 inch!
    Rumors is just rumors, I would wait and till the the real iProduct released!

  • Flat-sucks

    I utterly hate the flat back on iPhone4. Its probably the main reason why I decided to skip iPhone4 alltogether. Its fugly and it looks like a samsung reject or something. I certainly hope iPhone5 will return to curvalicious classic apple design

  • Jeffey

    Glassgate? Seriously? Can we make some stuff up to make your point a little more valid?

    Yes, antennagate is real though, but I doubt Apple will walk away from the 4 design in the next incarnation of iPhone. It will likely be a modest upgrade with an antenna redesign, perhaps 4G but honestly I doubt it. 4G is just not in enough areas as of yet and all the carriers 4G networks suck coverage wise.

    Remember, this is the company who stayed on Edge when 3G was pretty commonplace in 2007. Nor do I think they will go back to the old design in any way and a whole new design is unlikely. Apple has sold more iPhone 4′s then all the other iPhone models combined. Even with antennagate and “glassgate” (pfffffft….)

  • Rigogibson

    Maybe they should go with titanium instead of aluminum, as it apparently allows the signal to pass thru it as well as plastic? Source:
    http://www.engadget.com/2010/0

  • TG

    I have been an iphone user since 2007. The 2G looked very cool. But the glass on the screen was the reason I had to purchase three phones in a matter of 3 years (ok my fault for not being more careful). But the reason I didn’t leap into the iphone 4 was because of the shape, awkward to hold, and the glass on both sides…for me if the iphone 5 is made out of aluminum I will be jumping on board! (Now if only they made the screen out of some kind of shatter-proof, scratch-proof plastic!!!

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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