Rumors have been flying about Apple’s next-gen iPhone featuring a liquidmetal alloy casing, unlike the glass backing that currently cradles the iPhone 4 and 4S’s precious internals. Liquidmetal would assumedly create a lighter iPhone that’s also more durable and scratch resistant. There’s also been rumors that the next-gen MacBooks will be made of liquidmetal, but no hard evidence has surfaced to support the speculation.
Two years ago Apple bought exclusive rights to use material from Liquidmetal Technologies in its products, but we have yet to see a liquidmetal iPhone. The only liquidmetal material to be incorporated was the pin used for ejecting the iPhone 3G SIM card. Will 2012 be the year Apple’s product line goes liquidmetal? Sadly, the odds don’t look good.
Liquidmetal co-inventor Atakan Peker has spoken out on the possibility of Apple introducing a liquidmetal MacBook. He expects Apple to introduce the technology in a “breakthrough product.” But the company will need to spend between 300 and 500 million dollars over a period of three to five years maturing and perfecting liquidmetal before it’s ready to be mass distributed. From an interview with Business Insider:
I’ve heard rumors that future MacBooks from Apple could use Liquidmetal casing, what would that be like? Is it likely to happen?
Given the size of MacBook and scale of Apple products, I think it’s unlikely that Liquidmetal casing will be used in MacBooks in the near term. It’s more likely in the form of small component such as a hinge or bracket. A MacBook casing, such as a unibody, will take two to four more years to implement.
Peker goes on to say that “I expect Apple to use this technology in a breakthrough product. Such product will likely bring an innovative user interface and industrial design together, and will also be very difficult to copy or duplicate with other material technologies.”
Liquidmetal is a metallic-colored alloy that’s resistant to scratches and corrosion. It’s very strong and lightweight compared to other metals, and it can be precisely cast into complex shapes on an assembly line. The original iPhone featured an aluminum back while the last two iPhone models are encased in a stainless steel frame. The MacBook Pro and MacBook Air sport an aluminum housing that was debuted by Apple in 2008.