The Other New iPhone?

The Other New iPhone? 1

Remember last year, when a little-known company named Uniea announced new iPod nano cases—with correct physical dimensions—before the new iPod nano was ever shown? As we mentioned shortly afterwards, readers were quick to slam Uniea and its mock-ups, but the cases proved perfect fits when the new nano was released. Now, there are all sorts of friend-of-a-friend stories swirling around about the second-generation iPhone, and perhaps not surprisingly, they contradict one another. Yesterday, a Taiwanese newspaper claimed Hon Hai/Foxconn was making an iPhone with a 2.8” screen, which would present certain major interface challenges given the way the current iPhone works, and might well be a “mini” iPhone rather than a full sequel to the current model. Additionally, like you, we’ve heard about another model that is supposedly coming soon, and sounds more like a true next-generation iPhone. Companies overseas have already started working on products for this one, which is basically the same size as the current iPhone, but has slightly different curves, coloration, and materials. Specs for either or both of these models could be nothing more than disinformation put out to burn developers, but they could also be correct. In any case, here are the details they’re working from.

The Next iPhone?

Developers believe that the “glossy black plastic iPhone” details that have been circulating are partially accurate. When you first hear the word “plastic,” you tend to think “cheap,” but the premise here appears to be to approximate the look of metal through automobile-style gloss, while eliminating the presence of matte plastics and metal found in the original iPhone. The rear shell becomes larger, with the hard aluminum casing disappearing entirely, but a silver metallic bezel remains on the front—just much thinner than before. Once flat on both the back and front, the enclosure now is tapered like a MacBook Air, thicker at the center than at the sides. From the side, top, or bottom, the curves and proportions look more Blackberry than iPhone, but from the front, the new model looks basically unchanged from its predecessor. Perforated bottom speaker and microphone grilles have been transformed into larger shapes alongside the Dock Connector, as well.

While the screen size stays the same in this model—3.5” diagonal, with 3” height and 2” width, some currently unexplained changes are made around the ear speaker. On iPhone, a proximity sensor and ambient light sensor sat above this speaker; the new version has what appear to be three separate sensors, or two sensors and a tiny second camera—the original camera stays where it was. Though it would be great to picture this new dot as a video iChat-ready camera location, it’s entirely possible that this is nothing more than a rearrangement of the proximity sensor array. And colors? Glossy black or white backs are apparently locks, with a red version possible, too. Each would have the same silver bezel on front, and substantially black material surrounding the screen.

Of course, only Apple and its key partners know if any of this is correct, but some companies are assuming that it is. It’ll be interesting to see whether they’re right, and new cases begin to appear immediately after iPhone’s launch, or whether a multi-month delay is in store.

  1. Why would Apple go back to plastic when all of their moves in the last year (in part b/c of the Greenpeace campaign) have been away from plastic, towards recyclable, non-toxic metals and glass?

  2. Jeremy,

    You mention that the back remains the same, but certainly fabricators would still be provided with a comparison of the phone backs, or at the very least, the template for the new phone back. Perhaps wishful thinking for a camera flash. Have you been able to confirm that there is indeed no flash on the back? Thanks.

  3. @deef
    well – maybe they’re using plastic because it’s easier to add a door so the user can:
    1) swap the SIM (no mention of the SIM slot in the pic)
    2) support for SD (why have fixed capacity – 4GB onboard, and an SD slot so you can add/swap memory. with rumored GPS and the first SDK apps imminent – maybe the current max of 16 won’t be enough if you have tons of apps and associated data + maps onboard so GPS works w/o internet access) X amount of fixed memory has got to save on manufacturing costs. maybe the 2.0 version will have one pricepoint that appeals to a wider audience.
    3) access the battery (3G is a given, if real GPS is included, and there’s an enhanced video chipset they could all impact battery life – now you can swap the battery)
    4) GPS doesn’t work that well (if at all) through metal, and maybe the current antenna arrangement isn’t robust enough for 3G.

  4. I don’t think they are moving to plastic, that’s irrational, they are redesigning everything to aluminum, the only product that remains plastic is the MacBook, and that is going to change this year, I can bet that. Also, since the iPhone isn’t a cheap product and easy to fall, as all phones are, it could be an stupid drawback to use plastics on it. I’m waiting this second generation to buy one, but if it’s going to be plastic I better stay with my Sony Ericsson and I’ll buy and iPod Touch or an iPod Nano.

  5. I’m suspicious that that little bump on the back taper is an indication that some prankster has poor pen tool skills in Photoshop. I don’t buy it.

  6. 2/6: Metal inhibits wireless reception and you can’t make a phone completely out of glass.

    3: Nothing here should be viewed as “confirmed” or “unconfirmed.” This is just information on what certain overseas companies believe to be a new iPhone model. If these companies are correct, the back has no flash.

    4/8: Contrary to what a couple of sites have erroneously reported (apparently without reading the text above), the image is an artist’s rendition, not a template sent by Apple to select partners or something of the sort. The curve/radius is illustrative of the taper, and should not be micro-measured for hidden bumps or battery compartments. 🙂

  7. Re: Removable battery, SD slot, etc..

    Why on earth would Apple put in features that would cannibalize future sales? The lack of removable battery or expandable memory certainly hasn’t hurt their sales of any of Apple’s consumer electronics line to date (despite vocal criticism), they’d be fools to change course now.

  8. all the curves are messed up. It looks sad.
    Defiantly a fake.

    Look at the bottom left image.
    #1 the rendering of the current iPhone is incorrect. The back of the iPhone is rounded, not the same as the front.

    #2 All the rounded “holes” on the bottom are not symmetrical. The center point of the curve is more towards the top.
    (also on electronics meant to be put in your pocket you want the holes to be as small as possible to avoid collecting lint/dust)

    On the Top Left:
    The rounding of the “new” iPhone makes no sense. The “little bump” people have seen is the first error. What people haven’t noticed is that at the end of the curve its coming back in. It past 90 degrees and is going back to the edge at around 20 degrees to far.

    On the bottom right:
    Why use 8 bit in a vector file? The colors are less pure. Also if it would have a “silver bezel” then a good designer would put a border with that silver bezel to see how the colors interact.

    This is a fake and a crappy one at that. Can’t believe this is even considered news worthy. If a design engineer turned this in he should be fired immediately.

  9. Plastic. To me this cheapens the iPhone. Apples products for the most part so far have felt very sturdy through the use of metal, glass, etc.

    I saw the picture online a few weeks ago of the purported “black plastic” iPhone. I went out the next day and bought an iPhone so that at least I am guaranteed that I have an iPhone that feels sturdy instead of trashy.

    I could care less about 3G.

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