Will the design of the iPhone 5 completely change?

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| March 7, 2011

Well, it's that time again. As the next iPhone's launch day approaches – though still months away – tidbits of information begin to form a little puzzle. People start speculating about what the next generation iPhone will look like and what specifications it will have in tow when it hits the market. Sometimes the renders are pretty close. Other times, not so much.

This same ritual led to a wild ride last year. Several different renders and images of what people believed to be the iPhone 4 would look like began popping up all over the place. It all started as harmless fun and a creative outlet for us technology fiends.

People kept digging and an Apple employee got drunk and left his pre-production iPhone 4 – disguised as a 3GS – in a bar. Someone else at the bar found it and, like a good Samaritan, tried to return it. At the time, Apple knew nothing about the leak and brushed the guy off. Gizmodo paid top dollar for the device, only for Jason Chen's house to get raided by police with warrant in hand. Eventually, the warrant for the iPhone was withdrawn and the situation was dealt with on both sides.

This year, things are starting to go down the same path, though I doubt it will be as action-packed as last year. I'm sure Apple has tightened the reins this year and will not have another leak like that. We all know who won't be getting the iPhone 5 to carry about (snicker).

Some of us have already seen some renders of the 4-inch iPhone 5. The one pictured above comes from the faithful leader of the Boy Genius Report, Jonathan Geller. In all honesty, it's a pretty good guess at what the device might look like: a reduced bezel so the actual device size increase is minimal, and a wider display rather than tall and skinny. It looks rather HTC-esque though, doesn't it?

After seeing a few different renders already, I'm forced to ask: will the next iPhone's design completely change? The guys over at Macotakara seem to believe it will, and sources are telling Economic Daily News that the next iPhone will sport an aluminum back (not unlike that of the iPod Touch) and that the antenna will be redesigned and hidden in the Apple logo.

We all know Apple fueled a lot of resources into the antenna design on the iPhone 4. The outcome wasn't exactly what they – or we for that matter – expected. They even tried reworking the design on the CDMA iPhone to no avail. Though not nearly as prevalent, there is still a death grip issue. I can believe that Apple would be overhauling the antenna design after two failed attempts, and it would certainly coincide with part of the delay in release that we've heard rumors of.

You may also recall that Apple was applying for a patent at the end of last year that fits perfectly with the rumor. So using the Apple logo as the antenna isn't out of the question either. However, there is also a chance that they will, once again, rehash the current design. Like I said, the "death grip" issue with the Verizon iPhone has not affected nearly as many people. The problem area has been moved to the top of the device, where most people who use the phone won't have any issues.

As for the aluminum backing, I can see that change coming, too. Having two slabs of glass wasn't Apple's brightest idea. One drop and the device could be done for good. Shattered. Even taking the precautionary step of shielding your device in a case could result in cracking. Replacing glass with the aircraft aluminum they love to use definitely makes sense.

The larger display is a rumor I'm still not sold on. It would undoubtedly be a good move for Apple. But the only support we have for those rumors is pure speculation and Digitimes' "upstream component suppliers." A larger display could sideline the Retina display for a while, and I don't see that happening. Plus, they seem to be about making devices smaller as of late, not bigger.

Let's not forget that we've also heard talk of a hardware keyboard and a cheaper iPhone, too. Neither of these things sound too much like something Apple would do. So to be on the safe side, I would keep a couple tablespoons of salt on hand for all of the renders and iPhone rumors ahead. There are bound to be plenty and here's to hoping for another crazy year of Apple rumors and leaks.

Products mentioned