Foxconn Source Allegedly Confirms iPhone 5 With Larger Display and Aluminum Back

Foxconn Source Allegedly Confirms iPhone 5 With Larger Display and Aluminum Back

Although not much more than a questionable confirmation of existing rumors, 9to5Mac is claiming that a source close to Foxconn has told them that the iPhone 5 will have a larger edge-to-edge screen and an aluminum back while otherwise sharing the form factor of the iPhone 4.We’re not sure what to make of these rumors.

A larger edge-to-edge display in the same case size would be nice, and Apple’s move to Retina Displays in the iPhone line does give Apple the leeway of expanding the display size without upping the number of pixels. Also, the Gorilla Glass used by the iPhone 4, while beautiful, is much heavier and more fragile than aluminum, so we can see benefits of shifting back as well.

That said, Apple’s spent a lot of money in the last nine months trying to perfect a way to coat the back glass panels of the iPhone 4 so that light doesn’t leak through onto the camera sensor in the white models, and Phil Schiller says we can expect the fruits of that labor to hit stores this spring. Why would Apple work so hard on this if they were going to drop the glass in just three months?

Also, let’s not forget why Apple ditched the aluminum back of the original iPhone: cellular and wireless connectivity issues. Sure, it’s possible that Apple’s figured out a way around those issues by now thanks to advances in antenna design that might mitigate the connection drawbacks of aluminum… but why would Apple chance it when Antennagate is still fresh in everyone’s minds?

We’ll see, but for right now, my gut says Apple’s sticking with a glass back for the iPhone 4, and it’ll be a modest update more akin to an iPhone 4s than anything else.

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  • Bobby

    Just one point. Antennagate only started with the Gorilla glass back design, it still is a problem with the Verizon iPhone, and was much less of a problem with the aluminum back. So the antenna issue would surely be a reason for switching back to an aluminum back.

    I personally prefer the aesthetics of the gorilla glass design, but the reception issues and dropped calls with it are not acceptable to me from reliability point of view.

  • Thomas sutton

    If the display got bigger than 3.5″ wouldn’t that mean there would be “fragmentation” of apps. I don’t know much about developing but if the screen size changed wouldn’t that mean all of the apps in the app store would have to be made compatible with it?

  • Andrew

    @Thomassutton360 – according to the rumours, the display would only be increasing very slightly, enough to get rid of the narrow bezel on the side of the screen. The resolution would also stay the same, so each pixel would simply be perhaps 5% larger than currently. Since the resolution isn’t changing, apps wouldn’t need recoding, and such a small change in pixel size wouldn’t affect usability.

  • John Marshall

    The screen will not expand to the edges because this would make case designs very difficult.

    The aluminum back: what a coincidence it looks just like the recently released iPad 2. Remember the mockups of iPhone 4 that looked just like an iPad 1?

  • JonathanRWegner

    Wow — what an ugly mock-up. Going back to the form factor of earlier phones would be very un-Apple. They’re always pushing ahead. Unless Ives has become sick of the whole industrial design game.

    Good point regarding the Gorilla Glass, there’s no way Apple would spend so much time and money just to ditch it within months of coming to a solution. However, it is IP they can sell on.

    Perhaps what this rumor is actually about is the cheap and cheerful entry level iPhone rumored to be coming out — then it makes sense.

  • Jeffey

    Yeah right, last week it was case supplier was dug up and the next iPhone was identical to the 4. This week it’s an iPhone 1 retro design. Next week it will be a bag phone. Call it the iBag, comes with it’s own smart case!

    It does not take a rocket scientist to connect the dots. The next iPhone will be a very modest upgrade like the 3GS was to the 3G. Same body style as the 4, a couple new features, faster A5 processor, and an antenna design tweak. Maybe a slightly larger screen and although I doubt it, but LTE capable possibly. So many think that antenna gate was some big enough issue to make Apple walk away from their hottest selling design of a phone in cell phone history and revert back to a previous design thus admitting “hey, we messed up”. Reality is the iPhone 4 has outsold more units than all the previous generations of iPhone’s combined, and antenna-gate effected less than .5% of iPhone owners.

    If there is ANY merit to this mock up whatsoever from the “leak” at Foxconn it is for a possible cheaper iPhone entry model that rumors have suggested may be coming.

  • Ck1at

    You made very good points. I had a different thought before I read your article.

  • Skot Nelson

    > Also, the Gorilla Glass used by the iPhone 4, while beautiful, is much heavier and more
    > fragile than aluminum,

    I suppose that’s a matter of perspective and it depends on how you define “fragile.”

    Aluminium is a fairly brittle metal. It bends quite easily and once bent does not return to its original shape. It is very light and when properly formed can produce a high strength for its weight (think of a bike frame) but that strength due as much to the properties of the structure as the materials.

    Think of a beer or pop can, and how easily it can be bent once you’ve opened it.

    3M has Gorilla glass videos that show it bending under quite a bit of pressure and returning to its original shape with, apparently, no loss of structural integrity. You can also see it being jabbed with sharp implements and showing no scratches. An aluminum back would undoubtedly dent and bend in such a scenario (unless it were a remarkably thick aluminum back, which would defeat the purpose.)

    Frankly, I’d rather have the Gorilla Glass and I’d consider it dramatically less “fragile.”

    I can’t help but wonder if this might be the dawn of a two iPhone world? One with an aluminum back that’s an entry level iPhone while the other is similar to the current iPhone 4. The retina screen could be a differentiator.

  • ClubUgly

    There is not gonna be an iPhone5 till summer 2012 – Apple will most likely as they always done in the past release a refined iPhone4 S or X to tackle the antenna issue and other bugs just like they did with the 3G & 3GS, MacBook Pro, Air, ATV and other devices. It’s just crazy to think a IP5 is gonna be released 1 yr after the last model. We are almost in April and Apple hasn’t even caught up with shipments of the iPad2 yet and prolly wont till mid June or July.

    Heck, Think about the features that people are claiming the IP5 to have… AT&T don’t even have 4G nationwide or data services respectfully to handle any of the features. At the moment AT&T is threatening clients for using too much of their data bandwidth though the client has bought/paid for. The are throttling services with regards to the data plans.

    Then there is Verizon… Just got the IP4 – An IP5 released in a few months will stir an outrage with their current customers of whom many are just receiving their phones. But Verizon has had 4g service nationwide for a long time and can you imagine AT&T agreeing to a 2011 summer release with no nationwide 4g service? I can’t because that would mean a lot of pissed off clients too who are still stuck on 3g service while Verizon has IP5 sporting 4g service… Guess where everyone will go considering AT&T overall phone service now on the iPhone sucks?

    So in the least I expect to just see a refresh of IP4 this summer with no ground breaking changes other than improved reception imo.

  • Edward Chamberlain

    Apple wont make the screen any bigger for that reason. there are already 3 screen sizes ( iphone with retina display, ipad, iphone) so they don’t need more.

    if there going to make the screen bigger it wont be soon. it will be when nearly no one has a device that doesn’t have retina display. even then it would be unlikely after the chaos the retina display caused.

  • Edward Chamberlain

    i think this might also be a reason why the ipad 2 didn’t get a retina display

    as well as the costs.

  • Vasiliy

    iPhone 4g will not have a bigger screen than iPhone 4. It would have problems with resolution.

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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