Don’t Shed A Tear For The Teardrop-Shaped “iPhone 5”


Just a quick note regarding Apple’s upcoming iPhone and iPod hardware updates.

The world has been completely consumed by iPhone 5 rumors for the past few months. We’ve been following them just like you have, but the reports have been so crazy that other publications have been e-mailing us to ask what we think is happening. Since we’re sharing our thoughts with them, we wanted to share them with you, too.

1. Why are the “iPhone 5 cases” making the rounds right now so different from one another in size? From what we’ve heard, a number of companies created these cases based on mockup images that were circulated around the Internet—not based on actual iPhone 5 bodies. They represent guesses as to the device’s size and shape, and most (maybe all) of them will not actually fit the next iPhone. Developers are split on whether the teardrop-tapered polished metal represents the design of a next-generation iPod touch, an iPhone, or wishful thinking.

2. What will the actual iPhone 5 look like? Several things about the mockups don’t make a ton of sense. iPhone antennas would have trouble with an all-metal device back. Dramatic slenderizing ahead of the impending (2011 or 2012) addition of LTE would be surprising—not impossible, just surprising. And similarly, thinning the iPhone at the same time as it gets a larger screen would be unusual. While all of these things are conceivable—and apart from resulting battery life problems, quite desirable—Apple could more easily stuff new components into an old enclosure, and wait until next year for a big body change. There’s obviously precedent for that.

Based on what we’ve heard, actual rear body shells for the iPhone 5 are not circulating in the way that they would have if a new body design was just around the corner. What has been circulating is a revised iPhone 4 body frame that combines the prior GSM and CDMA frames into one part. It seems highly likely that this and some flat glass will be at the heart of at least one new iPhone model. The iPod touch could be getting little more than internal tweaks and a white color option. Or it could be making a radical evolution into that teardrop-shaped casing. No one’s really sure.

3. So what happens if I buy an iPhone 5 case that doesn’t fit? You’re stuck with it. The companies making these early cases are doing so to keep their production lines moving during an otherwise slow time. They don’t particularly care whether the cases fit or not. It’s a business gamble, sort of like putting $400 on a longshot horse hoping to make $5,000 or more if it wins. If you go out and buy an iPhone 5 case right now, when no device has been announced, that’s your money to lose if the bet doesn’t pay off.

Our advice would be to hold off on making any case purchases for the time being. The new iPhone and iPod launches are only weeks off at this point, and for now, the best idea would be to wait and see what Apple’s magicians pull out of their hats on stage.

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Jeremy Horwitz

Jeremy Horwitz was the Editor-in-Chief at iLounge. He has written over 5,000 articles and reviews for the website and is one of the most respected members of the Apple media. Horwitz has been following Apple since the release of the original iPod in 2001. He was one of the first reviewers to receive a pre-release unit of the device, and his review helped put iLounge on the map as a go-to source for Apple news.