iPhone 5 to have flat metal back, larger screen

9to5Mac says a source at Foxconn -- Apple's Shenzhen based manufacturer -- has sneaked them some details about iPhone 5, namely it keeping the same form factor as iPhone 4 but switching the back glass for metal and bumping up the screen size.

Although some reports claim the iPhone 5 will adopt a curved metal back, our source says models have been floating around with a flat metal back. The material of this metal is unspecified. Our brains say aluminum but our hearts wonder if this could be Liquid Metal.

The next major enhancement is said to be a larger display. An enhanced screen for the next-iPhone has been rumored, but an exact screen size has only been pinpointed by Digitimes (4 inches). Our sources do not have precise screen measurements for the iPhone 5 but are certain that it appears to be larger than the one found on the iPhone 4.

An iPhone 4 design with liquid metal backing and 4-inch close-to-Retina Display (it would have to keep the same 960x640 pixel count to maintain app compatibility so the density would go down to below 300ppi) -- sound good?

[9to5Mac. Note: Image above shows aftermarket iPhone 4 metal back conversion]

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Rene Ritchie

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

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iPhone 5 to have flat metal back, larger screen

77 Comments

I like the back of that after market, and assume an official version would be amazing looking.
As far as the larger screen, I agree, they would need to keep the same pixel count. To me, this doesn't pass the sniff test. Apple has proven it does not do things because it can, it does them because it can do them well. Would increasing the size just to say "we have a bigger screen, too" really be all that worth it? I don't see the value in it, though I am sure others can. Would this not diminish the quality of the display to a small extent?

Forgot to add - if the back is essentially scratch proof, the Apple Bumpers become the only real case you need. Something to protect the corners in a fall.

..and to solve the antenna problem! Which is the main reason people put them on their phone. Unless iPhone 5 has a totally new antenna design, bumpers will still be needed for anyone that ever goes into a low signal area and still wants to be able to make calls.

It would set them up for an easier pixel bump in a later model, maybe 6 or 7. Plus it could be seen as a decent update for the next model without having to change much else aside from the usual component speed bumps. Remember, unless they have someone threatening to pass them in their eyes, Apple likes to do incremental updates when they can so they can keep something in the pipe for later just in case. I could see a couple of different incremental updates they might make, the competent speed bump, larger screen, and capacitive home button. That is of course on top of design changes such as a metal back or internal antenna.

According to this article, there would be no loss of pixels, only pixel density. That means you'd still get 960x640 pixels.
On the iPhone 4, the screen is 3 inches by 2 inches. So you'd get 320 DPI. If it were, for example, increased to 3.5 inches, but still was 960x640 pixels, you'd have to only have 275 pixels per inch (approximately) in order to keep the same screen dimensions. This would make it easier to see the pixels ad thus easier to see jaggies on the corners of images and fonts.

This is pure speculation (the article), and it is very very unlikely for Apple to backtrack, so to go from a retina display to a non...yeah, I highly doubt that this'll happen...

Exactly. Apple never backtracks on ANYTHING. Shipping a non-retina iPhone 5 would be comparable to shipping a thicker MacBook Air. It's just not going to happen.

apple backtracked when they removed the video capture capabilities of the nano 5g for the nano 6g's smaller form factor. is that not considered backtracking?

yeah the screen would lose some dpi but it will b larger. how is that back tracking? it will still b the highest rez screen in a phone on the market. most phones coming out now besides the driod bionic have 800 by 480 and have larger screens than 4 inches. the iphone 5 would still b above the curve... even when the iphone 5 is released the 4 will still b a relevant device. increasing the screen size is not a bad move.

I agree the iphone 4 pixel density is already high enough that most people can't see the pixels. A slight increase in size will barely be noticeable for most people.

You'd have to believe that they will change the antennae after the problems they've had. I'd like to see a form factor which feels better in the hand. The current iPhone is far too angular to feel comfortable to hold.

You really think they'd design another iPhone which requires you to use a case? I'd guess no. An antenna redesign is almost a certainty, I'd think.

I actually had the back pictured above on my iPhone 4. I noticed in areas with poor signal it made it even worse. Where I work I get 1-2 bars of 3G all day everyday. With the metal back above on my phone I never got 3G. I left it on for days just to make sure it wasn't a network issue. Final day I brought the stock back with me and the metal had EDGE. I switched it out and bingo 2 bars of 3G were back in their glory.
As much as people want to say or think this won't affect signal I have personal experience and can say it doesn't play well in lesser signal areas.

Um how does it not? Better signal is better signal, metal backing or not.
A metal-backed Verizon iPhone would get better signal than a metal-backed ATT iPhone, was his point I think.

I never had any problems with it on my at&t either. Not saying it didn't exist, but the media always attacks those who do things well.

I am not a fan of that new design. It looks rather "blegh". I also believe that with the metal back, I would face worse wifi signal than I currently do.

Bigger screen a must. Once you use a phone with a 4+inch screen you wonder how you lived with a smaller screen. Everything is easier, reading, using the keyboard, etc.
And doing all that while keeping the same overall size? That's the kind of thing Apple does.

i agree. the loss in dpi will hardly b noticeable. a 4 inch display at 960 by 640 will still be the highest dpi screen on the market when it comes out.

I am not a fan of the metal back, i really like the glass. Also not sure how i feel about the 4inch screen... luckily i have a year and 11 months to think about it and enjoy my iPhone 4!

Please dump the home button and square off the screen top to bottom, edge to edge. They could probably squeeze atleast 4.3 inches of screen by doing so, without making the case bigger. Yes, I do realize the whole "retina" theory will be distorted if that's the case, but that's their problem to figure out. Combine this with a liquid metal back, 8 MP camera with dual flash, and small LED Indicator on the top right, with the improvements under the hood, and we have a championship. That's my iPhone 5 wishlist for today kids, check in next time for my iPad 3 wishlist. Thanks for watching.

"Please dump the home button and square off the screen top to bottom, edge to edge."
A big resounding no on both counts.

i think the home button on the iphone suxxx. they should have a row of capacitive buttones down there or a touch area like the palm pre. somethinnnng, its such a waste of space. that one massive button with bad responsiveness needs to go

Finally someone is thinking right! And can I get it preinstalled in my Millenium Falcon cockpit? Please and thank you ^_^

I really think your blog is great! I’ve added a link back here; I hope that’s alright as I’d like my readers to check your site & articles out. It’s Here. Always like to honor high quality content. Great job!…

Sounds good to me. I believe it will be a total redo. Can't wait to upgrade from my 3gs in a couple months.

Ditto! I would also like the metal back if it helps reduce scratches and I can do an engraving on it. It would be nice to put my name to help reduce theft. Also a larger display would be great no matter the trade off. Can't wait to upgrade, June/July can't come soon enough.

i actually like the back...on the issue that other poster brought up with the distorted pixel and the antenna problem...im going to let apple find out how to solve that

I am excited about the iPhone 5! I really could care less what it looks like, so long as they double the storage to 64 GB! If they don't, the retina display and faster processor may still be enough to get me to upgrade from my 32 GB 3GS... I can't wait!

I can't believe I'm actually glad to see a rumor post. Beats all the whining about AT&T going after jailbreakers that tether. Anyway, this rumor sounds good to me, if true. Of course, one assumes they would insulate that metal back or they'd have even more antenna shorting problems.
A bigger screen is winning! Even with a slightly lower pixel density it would still look fantastic, and more room for fingers is great for a touch based device.

I'm curious: as iPhone 5 will have a chipset to support both GSM and CDMA (att and verizon), and not special phones made for each individual network, does this imply unlocked phones? Or does it it imply locked, but to two choices? what of iphone 5 in other countries like Singapore, where every mobile co carries the iPhone?

When I replaced my iPhone glass back with the brushed metal back, I immediately saw this being a potential design for the iPhone 5. The great thing here is the antena design allows them to put any back on without signal degradation. Now all they have to do is find a way to relocated the antenna sweet spot to the top black bars on the phone. So our hands don't cover them during normal use.

All of these potential iP5 designs make me glad I grabbed the 4. Brushed metal? Really? I just don't believe it. Apple never goes backwards in terms of attractiveness on their devices, and this would be. Apple was the first phone to use glass on the back (glass!); why would they then go to something as commonplace as brushed metal? And I HIGHLY doubt they'll have a bigger display while losing pixels. That would be a second step backwards. My guess is if they have a bigger screen, they made even smaller pixels.

just stop talking on this site plz. thx... the loss in pixel density from a 3.5 to 4 inch display at 960 by 640 will not be noticeable and will still be the highest dpi screen on the market when released.

I'd like to know definitively how you know that a loss in pixel density would "not be noticeable." but. I love your tag name

Please stop being rude on this site "plz". 1) you don't know how noticeable it will be, so stop talking like you know what you're talking about, and 2) it's also about the mentality. Apple would be taking a step backwards, noticeable or not.

@ Kayno- they can't put the antenna at the top. It's an FCC rule that it must be placed at the bottom of the phone. I hope they implement it into the logo like their patent suggests.

Doesn't metal heat up quickly??? We are already experience "hot pockets" at times with the battery heating up. I'm just saying...

yeah but it also dissipates heat well. do you know what a heat sync is?... man i usually read pre central and android central. the lack of knowledge i have experienced on this site is up there. i can see why the android people call the iphone people tech newbs (and that is saying it lightly)

Maybe over at Android Central they're so smart they can tell me what the heck a "heat sync" is. Something that synchronizes heat? I'm just a dumb iPhone user but I'm pretty sure it's called a "heat sink".

I thought Dutchmasta was talking about missile's that Maverick and Goose were shooting bogey's with on Top Gun!!! Ohhh...

Keep the glass Apple... keep the iPhone from being just another old boring phone like everyone else.
Hopefully someone will make aftermarket glass backs if they wreck the iPhone 5.

I really think that the next iPhone will borrow somewhat heavily from gte design cues of the iPad 2. It will be thinner, dual core, etc., but the screen will not approach greater than 4", Jobs wouldn't go for that.

I'd love to see them ditch the glass back (which was a foolish idea from the outset) and go with a larger screen, preferably SAMOLED or similar, with the same pixel count.
The move from 3.5 to 4" would be a good one, and the pixel density drop negligible.

Not too concerned about the bigger screen size, but the metal backing is definitely a plus-as is not having to buy new cases!

Ty!!! I personally love the new back. About as I said in the other post, imma let apple worry about these pixel and antenna issue. Just sell me the damn phone already

If they do go to a larger screen and lose a bit of dpi, I have a feeling they would compensate with better contrast or something else. I actually find the iPhone a little too skinny in my hand, better with a case/bumper. I would not mind if they made it a little wider.

Why wouldn't they just keep the Density and increase the resolution? Smaller apps could be letterboxes and there'd be no change in screen quality. Just think of all the poor ruler apps that would need to be fixed if the density were decreased. =(

Apple shouldn't sit on there ass for too long. I would have a nice look at some competitors if this is all the iPhone 5 brings to the table.

All the folks with the other big screens on the phone complain about battery life. I like using my phone on a single charge for almost 2 days, something i couldn't do on the other ones.

I'd give my left pinky to get 2 days out of a charge.
Maybe it's just because I use mine so much - I really ought to use my iPad more...

I'm seriously liking the alleged aluminum back on the iPhone 5, and seriously NOT liking the fact that I have an iPhone 4 and won't be eligible this cycle.
I can only take solace in the fact that I can hope that the iPhone will go full 4G LTE in 2012.

They may send the antennae signal through the apple logo like they do for the iPad if they go Al. I would take the aluminum iPhone 5.

seems to me as though they could go up to 3.8 inches while staying at 300ppi at the same resolution and would more easily fit in the iPhone 4 size

I've got to say, I'll love a brushed metal back as well. I've had the 3GS and the 4 and I never felt I could enjoy either fully because I had to preserve both by using a case. It'd be nice to actually not have to worry as much about scratches on the back.
Oh, who am I kidding...I'll still put this one in a case too. Damn!!!

4 inch screen with new A5 processor . Liquid metal back. Also I would really like better YouTube integration. Sounds dumb but I want to share youtube videos at the touch of a button and send them through text or to fb. Kind of like android phones do it. Not to much to ask for is it?