Patent Watch: Apple Dreaming of Aluminum Unibody iPhones?

MacNN has unearthed an Apple patent that shows the concept of aluminum unibody design, first displayed in the current MacBook line, applied to iPods and even -- potentially -- the iPhone.

Gizmodo has presented some concepts along these lines before, though we're still not sure how Apple would get around interfering with the 3G HSPA, and future 3.5G HSPA+ and 4G LTE and other radios inside a connected device (which is why they switched to plastic in the current gen iPhone to begin with).

Still, from a sheer design, build quality, and fit and finish perspective... drool.

[Image via Gizmodo]

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.

llofte says:

I think this design is so sexy. That'd be so cool of they could make it work.

frog says:

If Apple pull out an aluminium unibody iPhone in June, I'll be lining up to buy one! If they keep a similar/plastic design, the only thing that would make me buy it is a large increase in battery life.

travis says:

Of will take the iChat camera for me to stand in line for it

Frank says:

Why aren't ppl wanting flash for their cameras?
I know it's not supposed to be a replacement for a camera, oh wait, it is for some ppl and sometimes.
Stop dropping the ball on this please even if it's a concept..... Getting sick and tired of it.

Yves Neidlinger says:

This won't be a surprise. Jonathan Ive wants all his products to have a consistent look and feel.

Steven says:

This is the biggest thing I've been hoping for. It would seriously increase durability if they dropped the whole back casing + chrome ring + front screen area. Too many gaps and too many chances to have defects (light leakage and the like).
A unibody iPhone would be sexy, yeah, but it'd also make a ton of sense as far as practicality goes

Chobbs says:

HATE the plastic!!! LOVE the aluminum!!!

Andrew says:

If this came out my brother can get my Iphone 3g stuff the costs. Its look amazing, matches the laptop too

Twenga says:

That's pretty cool I love it!

Steve says:

FRANK: "Why aren't ppl wanting flash for their cameras?"
Because unless you can position them separately from the lens, they cause ugly shadows and reflections, and basically suck. And most people unknowingly use them only to light up the air around them because their subjects are too far away for the flash to have any affect. They're okay for shooting drunken friends in dark bars, but that's about it.
I'm hoping for no useless camera flash.

spacedoggy says:

Am I the only one that still loves White phones? Alulm - Yuk!

keester says:

If they come out with this, I WILL DEFINITELY BUY! (My contract is up for renewal in June, thank goodness)

Chobbs says:

Spacedoggie must be a female

Vdozier says:

Oh wow, I'd wait outside for a week to get that, I'm pathetic.

Daje says:

No you're not the only one who likes white. I live the white iPhone they should keep it in color. Although I was a little upset when they changed the aluminum back to plastic. The white wore on me and I love it.

Omari James says:

It looks nice but I think the corners look sharp and dangerous.

Rajiv says:

I like the 2G iPhone aluminum more than the 3G plastic. I could do without the chrome ring around the screen.

Mike says:

Love it!!! but I am pretty happy with the current one, give me more speed and more power

scottb says:

I sell one of my kids when they release that one!

The_Crooner says:

i can honestly say that i dont like it. . . . i can see a lot of visual aspects in that design that apple would never go for.
i really like the sleek appearance of my plastic 3G . . . and besides all that metal would make the cellular reception really crappy.

The Duuude says:

It could work on any other carrier not using that 1900mhz frequency.
however with the 850mhz switch that ATT is attempting to go 100% with it could be feasible..

yas2000 says:

ipodTouch 2nd Gen is already a uni-body design, it has only two components: glass front and chrome else where.
I wonder why the above suggested design is needed. iphone do need fair amount of plastic (insulated material)for radio.
Ipod classic is makes sense, as mention in the patent application, iphone can be uni-body (non-metal or conductor) by making minor tweaks

E Pow says:

This is beautiful!!!! Even though it's just a concept, It's great. I would stand in line again for 4 hours to get this.

Carl says:

Possible, won't be titanium though, but aluminum like the Macbooks and iMac. They will need to address the radio reception issues that aluminum causes. I think the iChat camera and replaceable battery won't happen. Won't have a standard headphone jack, instead a similar jack like on the new iPod Nano. Some rounded corners to eliminate the sharp edges and it could be a winner.
One question I have is how would it feel in your hand? The current model has a slight curve on the back that gives a comfortable feel as you cradle it in your hand. This design would lose that. Is Apple willing to give that up? Maybe like on the iMac the aluminum provides the "frame" and the back is curved plastic. This would address both the radio and cradling issues at once. Hmm, I think it might simplify the milling issues too.

Levertis says:

I hate it. it looks to skinny and uncomfortable I would only get it if it had better battery life and they better have a black one.

Steve says:

Some of you people don't seem to understand that the concept illustrated above wasn't designed by Apple, but rather by someone who has no hope of ever working for Apple. :roll:

Harold says:

Well, I love all the new hardware features but I think this is a huge under statement to iPhone 3G they might as well go back to first Generation. They said they made iPhone 3G curvy because it felt better in your hand, then they design this box. They said they decided to use plastic this time because it allows 3G then they wonna use metal again. It doesn't even look like Apple designed it, what happen to the curvy shinny 3G. And I really don't think a removable battery is a very good idea. And to be honus I don't think this design will ever hit the stores.

Chris H. says:

Wow... I just almost drooled. Thinking of the thinness, fit and finish, and the sexy makes me feel like I'm gonna spew out buckets of saliva over a phone.
It's a damn phone! Why am I so obsessed with this idea?

Zaph says:

@article- The concept art looks cool... but I would never wish for one of these over Apple's current offerings. If they could make an aluminum iPhone/iPod that's sleeker, more streamlined and not quite so industrial-looking, then I'll shell over $300 :-P