First iPhone 5 Cases Reveal Bigger Touchscreen, Curved Back… And Totally Buttonless Design



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, 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.

  • jayoen

    Looks an awful lot like a Samsung Galaxy S

  • William Johnson

    you mean the galaxy s looks a lot like iPhone

  • iBryanz

    That design sounds horrible. I really like the iPhone 4’s flat back, and if they made the front and back out of aluminum (more like the current Macs), it would look stellar.

  • prof_peabody

    The image on the left is upside down and the home button is still there (at the top).

    Also, Steve Jobs is the number one guy in favour of the home button so the bit about “what he always wanted” is incorrect.

    Edit: Also also … the changes in the home button and the screen size are on “open” areas of the case, so the case in fact does *not* indicate any of those changes. In other words, just because they’ve drawn in the screen as edge to edge, and just because they’ve drawn in the ovoid button, doesn’t mean anything at all.

  • HelveticaNeue

    “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.”

    Looks like the volume buttons are on the same side to me. You can see them popping out of the left side of the case.  Perhaps the mute switch is moving the the other side.  But in MobileFun’s article they seem to believe that long oval opening is a touch-sensitive volume area … doesn’t a SIM card slot make more sense?

  • poppa1138

    I thinks it looks more like a iphone 3gs

  • dagamer34

    Multi-tasking overuses the home button so much that Apple needed to go capacitive eventually.

  • Mike Rathjen

    Curved backs are terrible when used on a flat surface. They keep rolling around when using the touchscreen.

  • Dewey

    Could it be a liquidmetal case?

  • freediverx

    Replacement of physical buttons with capacitive versions sounds like a very bad idea. The usability and ergonomics of key functions like home and volume would suffer greatly without tactile feedback. Additionally this would negate the primary benefit of iOS 5’s external shutter button for the camera.

  • Matthew Brennan

    Patent war?

  • Don Pope

    I don’t know…  An aluminum front would make it hard to see the icons.

  • Don Pope

    I would love it if it looked more like an iPod Touch (which this design seems to do)
    However, getting rid of the home button would be a huge mistake.
    The home button is part of what makes the iPhone so user friendly.

  • Hampus

    Well the images look like it’s more like curved sides with a flat back, just like the iPad 2 and not like the iPods that are rounded.
    Meh, I don’t even like the rounded no sides shape of the iPad 2, the iPad and iPhone 4 have perfect shapes.

  • Hampus

    There already is, remember? Well not a patent war, but a case of Apple claiming Samsung stole their design/look, I kinda see where they are coming from :p

  • Don Pope

    Which is a good point for an iPad, but not for an iPhone.

  • Zach Crandell

    it’s a step backward. 

  • T A

    If Apple takes away my RIng/Silent switch, I am not gonna be a happy camper!

  • imajoebob

    Not displaying an accurate rendition of the unreleased iPhone is also a smart way to stay on Apple’s good side.  A missing button here, an odd speaker ho,e there, and you obfuscate the other rumours out there.  Steve likes prerelease confusion

  • ctt1wbw

    If this case is actually real, or the design at least, and the new iPhone has a curved back, I’m in like Flynt.  I love the 3GS and the way it feels in my hand.

  • UNOwenNYC

    It’s EVOLUTIONARY – NOT ‘revolutionary.’ twit.

  • iDaBoss

    it’s still there, just capacitive

  • dale2000

    He doesn’t care.  He gets paid per article.  Have you ever heard of anyone getting paid ‘per grammar’?  No.  That’s so incorrect, even the phrase ‘per grammar’ is incorrect.

  • dale2000

    John Brownlee, please try to exercise SOME restraint with your hyperbole??  I know I will come off as an accuracy-nazi, but your title implies that this iPhone is “Totally Buttonless.”  Here are the things that are wrong with such a statement:

    • The volume buttons appear to still exist.
    • The power button still appears to exist.
    • The home button still appears to exist, it just happens to be touch sensitive.  In fact, I’d bet that the home button still depresses like the current button does… but no one knows that for sure.

    No one’s asking you to triple check your journalism here, buddy, but you can see by looking at the photograph that you’re wrong.

    Man, if you weren’t so inconsistently bad at your job I wouldn’t complain so loudly.  I should just take my viewership elsewhere and not speak up to point out problems with this blog… or writer…

  • cheese223

    it looks like a ipod touch with a speaker hole to me

  • jnjnjn3

    Interesting, could be ‘it’.


  • jnjnjn3

    Relax, it’s just a blog.
    The man just writes to attract hits, and that obviously works.


  • huyett

    I like iPhone 2g’s aluminum back… it doesn’t shatter if you drop the phone.

  • UNOwenNYC

    The word is EVOLUTIONARY – NOT ‘revolutionary!!!’

    The iPhone IS REVOLUTIONARY – an answer to a question NO ONE THOGHT OF BEFORE.

    Moving a button (or removing it) is EVOLUTIONARY – answering a question to problem that ALREADY EXISTS!!!!

    That is SIMPLE grammar, language. It’s not evn college-level!


  • Dalsten Deilus

    It reminds me of the MacBook Air.  People keep mentioning a lower-end model.  I wonder if they would do an iPhone Air? I like my iPhone 4 design and but if it’s someone’s first Apple product, like the Air, I could see it being an interesting option.

  • mlokubo

    this fake case has obviously been designed to fit this known fake render first used a LONG time ago by the former engadget, now This Is My Next staff.

    if you aspire to journalism, you need to work on the fact-checking skills.

  • sp12

    I can’t wait to upgrade my 3GS to phone that looks just like it and is missing the Home button. Yay!

  • Guest

    Spot on. Guess the internet is good a place as any for Apple related rumors.

  • Ashina Tam
  • Cold_dead_fingers

    Apple started the whole “Retina Display” craze. I hope they don’t go throwing that display name on any display that has that resolution. a 3.7-4″ display with that same 960×640 res wouldn’t look as sexy. I’m excited about everything else though.

  • mai duc chung

    The usual idea is that you would use NFC to set up the link between the two devices and then do an automatic hand over to a different protocol for doing the actual transfer of data – eg Bluetooth,iphone 5

  • Ben Brown

    I have had iPhones 3G, 3GS, and 4 (currently using a factory-unlocked white 16GB iPhone 4).  I also have a 3rd gen iPod Touch, and I have always thought to myself that if the 3rd gen iPod touch were a phone, it would be the perfect shape (curved, ergonomic back), size (thin), and weight (light).  I love the features of the iPhone 4, but the ergonomics of the iPhone 3GS were much, much better.  One thing I wonder about is how well will a capacitive “button” work if one must complete a “hard reset” on the phone by pressing and holding the Home button and Power button?  I kinda like the mechanical button at the bottom of the iPhone face.

  • Ernesto Sacrimoni

    The guys at Case Buddy already seem to have a couple up on their site…