Liquidmetal rumors revived, tacked onto next generation iPhone

Liquidmetal rumors revived, tacked onto next generation iPhone

Will the next generation iPhone 5,1 switch from glass and stainless steel to something infinitely more cool -- Liquidmetal? Who know, but that's what's making the rumor rounds this morning. It's easy to see why: Apple purchased perpetual, exclusive consumer electronic rights to the sci-fi sounding substance years ago but, a single-issue SIM-removal tool aside, hasn't done much with it yet. Even after Liquidmetal announced they were shipping commercial parts a few months back, we've yet to see or hear much of anything when it comes to iPhones or iPads.

The T-1000 in Terminator 2 made the term "liquid metal" famous as a mimetic poly-alloy that let a Robert-Patrick looking robot morph shape and turn his arms into blades. This isn't that liquid metal, of course, but it still has several desirable characteristics. Namely, Liquidmetal is strong, highly resistant to corrosion, wears well, and can be moulded in a similar way to thermoplastics.

The original iPhone had an aluminum back with a plastic strip along the bottom. The iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS had (and have) full plastic backs. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S have chemically treated glass backs with stainless steel antenna arrays.

Could the current stainless steel antenna array be replaced or reinforced by Liquidmetal? Could the glass back be replaced by something that somehow involves Liquidmetal (yet remains radio friendly)?

While it's only been on the market for a couple of years, there don't seem to be any widespread reports of stainless steel causing problems for the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S antenna. The glass back, however, looks great but isn't as crack-resistent as some users would like.

The next generation iPhone could potentially include a new casing design, and other new features like LTE and perhaps a slight variance in screen size. What roll Liquidmetal could play in enabling any of that remains uncertain.

So, for now, this is a fun rumors about a cool sounding technology, and nothing more.

Source: ETNews

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Liquidmetal rumors revived, tacked onto next generation iPhone


Anything but glass. The glass is VERY impractical. I like to be able to walk in a room and toss my phone on a table or bed, or whatever. I don't like to have to handle it with kid gloves.

Just the fact that most people put their iphone in some type of case means that the glass back is ridiculous. If the glass back is there for "beauty", but you can't see it, then what's the point of it?

I agree. No matter what people say if the back was so durable you would have many more naked iphones which isn't the case. Maybe apple did that so case manufacturers could make more $$$ lol

And not recessing the camera lens a millimeter or two. I've already had to replace the glass back because it and the camera lens got scratched, making any photos I took blurry. The phone now lives in an Otterbox Defender case. If I wanted a bulky azz phone, I'd buy a Samsung or HTC. Sheeze.

"there don’t seem to be any widespread reports of stainless steel causing problems"
There don't seem to be? Nope.

The greatest advantage of Liquidmetal is the ability to store elastic energy, in other words, if you drop a Liquidmetal iPhone, it will bounce back to your hand. I don't see Apple touting that as a case material. It will probably come as some sort of automatic mechanical charging device, perhaps inside the phone, so it will be continuously charging with tme motion of the owner.

Liquidmetal pros:

  1. It can be cast, like plastic, into complex shapes to reduce manufacturing complexity by reducing the need to machine parts. Great for complex internal structures.
  2. Scratch-proofness for lasting beauty. Great for enclosures.

Liquidmetal cons:

  1. Expensive materials (at least in its original formulation) including platinum.
  2. Dubious recylabillity. Greenpeace could get steamed.
  3. Possible radio opacity. Might require a zirconium dioxide "cell antenna window."

I always put my iPhone in some sort of protective case like the CandyShell Grip from Speck, who gives a rat's a** what it is made of?

If were doing moving references, I want my New iPhone to be made front and back out of transparent aluminum.
If it can safely hold whales inside a time traveling Klingon bird of prey, it can reside in my pocket any day! (still not sure why those walls had to be transparent in the movie though. Did they really need to see in there?..)

The walls were made of plexiglass. Scotty traded the chemical formula for transparent aluminum for the necessary plates of plexiglass since he didn't have any (enough) 20th century cash to pay for it.

Oh man, you're right!! I forgot.
Looks like I'll be watching all of the original movies this weekend to make sure I don't make such a blatant error of geekage

If they had beamed over to Bernake and the Federal Reserve, they would have had all the money printed for anything.

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