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4th gen iPhone to have ceramic backing, Apple A4-like SoC?

iPhone G4 glass backing

Following up on the crazy that was yesterday's iPhone G4 (iPhone HD/iPhone 4G) hardware leaks, Daring Fireball looked into the glass-like backing of the device, and brings up an old Apple patent for fancy, futuristic ceramics:

Multiple sources familiar with the next iPhone have confirmed to me that the back is made out of some sort of fancy glass — and looks pretty much exactly like what’s pictured at Engadget. [...] reader Antoine Hebert emailed with this 2006 Apple patent, for high-durability ceramic enclosures. Glass-like appearance and feel but far stronger and more scratch resistant. And: radio transparent.

We know the current, hi-tech plastic back on the iPhone 3GS (and iPhone 3G before it) is so durable it will not blend, so will glass-like ceramics be equally tough? Tough enough to survive a fall?

Meanwhile, 9to5Mac points us to a Korea Times where Samsung seems to confirm Apple will be using their own system-on-a-chip (SoC) for the 4th generation iPhone, like it does with the Apple A4 for the iPad.

If that chip is as blazing fast as we hope it will be, maybe ceramics is a better choice for the backing anyway. What do you think?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 31 comments. Add yours.

v_nes says:

im Done with all these news. Please let me know once the phone is out. this way everything will be true..

iphone4G says:

don't call it the ifone 4g! (those networks don't exist yet!!)

iphone4G says:

sure, Apple know how to make a chip way faster than the competition. Stevie boy has been up all night glueing it together. Right.

zeagus says:

It's hilarious -- last week people were pissing and moaning that "its all iPad news, where is the G4 iPhone news" and now it's "I'm sick of these iPhone rumors". There's just no pleasing people!

websyndicate says:

The iPhone 4g looks sick. I want a new ifone 4g cause ifone 4g's are better than ifones 3gs

JP says:

Noone said 4G in this post. 4th Gen. As in... This possibly being the 4th generation iPhone.

Steve Jobs says:

iPhone4g (you missed the capitalization and are thus in violation of our trademark!). You've heard of the A4, right? We're using that and it IS fast.
P.S. SOI is not TECHNICALLY glue.

jonar1us says:

@Zeagus how do you knoe those are the same ppl? These rumors make no sense...look at that photo? would Apple really put that thing on the market? lol

Jose says:

Will the glass/ceramic back allow for magic mouse style gestures accross the back of the new iDevice ?

zeagus says:

Oh, they aren't necessarily the same people :) It's just odd that people come to a blog that proclaims that it covers all iPhone OS devices and then people take time to bitch and moan about getting what the site advertises. The thing in the pic is a development testing chassis, the real thing will be seamless and likely have different button setup/rocker switch more like the iPad in execution (and likely sexy).

cardfan says:

That's almost enough to call it a magical device. But not wonderful yet..

John says:

Please make it STOP !!!!!

zeagus says:

There are links at the top that allow you to read just the tags/categories you care about. Please use them.

Mrjr says:

I'm pretty sure the back of the 3G/3GS is the "futuristic ceramic magic" that is radio transparent and ultra-tough. I don't know why people keep saying it is some kind of plastic. I remember distinctly when the 3G came out that half the people were moaning because it was plastic and the people that knew what they were talking about were telling them that it wasn't plastic, it was ceramic.
So yeah. Good chance that the iPhone g4 will have a tough ceramic back, just like the most recent 2 iterations.

Mrjr says:

Could someone else kindly corroborate this, please?

websyndicate says:

@JR This is me corroborating....done

zeagus says:

I agree, though it may not be the same formulation as the new stuff supposedly looks like glass - see: http://www.intomobile.com/2008/07/14/iphone-3g-isnt-plastic-zirconia-cer...

bz0n3 says:

I don't think iPhone 3G/3GS's used ceramic on the backing, if they did they wouldn't crack as all my last 4 iPhones did!

fastlane says:

If the next iPhone has any sort of shiny or glossy back, I will be spray painting it with an aluminum-like finish. I've had it with the shiny backing.

desjones4ever says:

These little leaks crack me up. I do believe that the back casing is gonna be different. Probably to make it look more like the iPad back casing. I don't think the picture does what it's gonna look like justice. Hi Res screen Better Battery and what I saw from the sneak preview on top of what we haven't seen of the 93 other features and I'm sold. I just hope they all early upgrades like they did last year! With all the competition trying to creep up and Apple has only one phone out best believe it's gonna be a very good one.

iphone4G says:

you're not allowed to spray paint your ifone. technically it remains property of apple. read the fine print.
serious though, i hope they bring out two versions, one with the useless front facing cam that no one uses after the first 3 test calls, and one with a LED instead of the useless cam. i'll take the LED and am willing to pay the same price!

GGG says:

I just hope the iPhone 4G will have the microSD slot TipB promised us.

zeagus says:

@GGG I assume that you are being facetious :)

fastlane says:

@iphone4G:
I plan on painting it down in my underground bunker. The same place where I hide to jailbreak it.

ChrisJ says:

how do you spell 4g? I google but no result. my english is bad. four-gee? i find no google result and apple support have no answer. i need 4g bad (spelling). my momma to buy one for my birthday before she leave for holidy and tell me to buy now. i try buy now but it do workie. can i talk on ipad? sister has one and has hand-warmer app and set on ipad. now it no more with big crack on it. can i replace with 4g or do i have to call apple and they send me 4g. i look forward to many fun with new toy. yes?

scott says:

@GGG...microSIM, NOT SD slot. Slow down and read what is there, and not what you want to see. It was NEVER microSD. As to what it will be called, I think it will be iPhone4. The fact that the #4 was the main point of the invites makes sense. We had the first, 2G phone, since it was EDGE only. Then we moved to the 3G, because we moved on to 3G networks. 3GS, same phone with a few tweeks. To keep using the "G" is a little silly at this point. And, with the next big one being LTE / 4G, I can't see how this one will have G in there anywhere. It would be the end of the G cycle with the S, and this would be simply 4, with the LTE phone getting the G back. I think this phone will be all new, and getting us ready for the true 4G networks. Apple lilkes to put out a product, then offer a tweek. Going to 4G will be one heck of a tweek!!

fastlane says:

@scott:
If you'd followed the threads in the past few days, you'd recognize GGG was obviously being sarcastic.
You've been Punk'd. :roll:

Glenn#IM says:

I made the same mistake. Micro sim good idea. Not to sure about the new back. It could be high impact of some sort. You are going to drop it for sure. How will it hold up?

tino72 says:

Looks like another smudge and scratch magnet surface ..no thanks yet again if this is true..id love to see a black rubberized soft touch back..of course then they would lose some on the cases they are pushing out in the hundreds of different styles

CJ says:

Can we please change the name of this blog to "iPhone rumors that rarely come true"?

newdeal says:

ceramic is basically just glass, I read somewhere else though that they were using zirconia which is actually a type of metal but it passes light through it like glass does and possibly could be used as an antenna as well