Skip to main content

Do You Want the 4th Gen iPhone Case to be Multitouch like Magic Mouse?

From the now we've heard everything department, an analyst is "predicting" that the 4th generation iPhone's plastic casing will be multitouch enabled, just like Apple's new Magic Mouse.

Not "predicted" of course is how it would work, and how it would filter out things like holding the iPhone for normal use vs. deliberately initiating a multitouch gesture on the back of the case.

Again, with Apple anything is possible, but is this desirable? Can you see Apple doing it?

The Palm Pre and Pixi have a multitouch area below the screen to enable consistent gestures for "back" and to bring up the app launcher. Is that preferable?

[Bloomberg via Macrumors]

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Rumors are fun, no doubt, but that one is just silly. The mouse is different from the phone in one important way: it is already sitting on a flat surface. If we tried to multitouch the back of the iPhone while holding it of course we would all have dropped and broken iPhones! The only use for this I could see is as a snooze for the alarm clock app, but I put my iPhone in a charger facing outward for the night, so I wouldn't even use that feature. Silly.
  • Oh yeah, but a swipe area beneath the screen dedicated to a "back" feature would be cool, I think.
  • if anyone at all wants agoogle voice number i have 3 more invites.... email is
  • yeah, rumor indeed... think about what this is proposing... and then think about why it's idiotic. what do most people have on their iPhones??? ... CASES, and in some cases, no pun intended, very complex cases that would completely nullify this feature... i would eat my own shoe if Apple let this go through to production, it just doesn't make any sense at all.
  • very good point stem22
  • I'm with stem22. It seems cool, but I don't know a single person that has an iPhone and doesn't have some sort of protective case on it. I'm sure there are loads of people without cases, but I'm sure there are way more with cases. This is almost as like the screen that is resistant to finger prints, but most of us put protectors on that aren't. So that feature is kinda useless as well.
  • yeah man, this rumor makes absolutely no sense. i liked the glowing apple logo rumor better :-P
  • Clearly a rumor that was squashed at "but what about my case"
  • Ya, dropped phone would be the result. I have an otterbox case, I love my otterbox case. I honestly have rarely ever held an iPhone without a case. I find it to thin and easy to slip from my hand. Having a touch back would be a big waste.
    On the 4th gen I want an otterbox again. It's like the darth vader of cases. (if you have ever put one on a phone it's much like the helmet on darth......) ok I have returned from geek land:)
    Ya, this rumour is bogus.
  • This could be useful, if implemented similar to how the palm pre allows gesture uses just under it's LCD screen.
  • Wow...just wow.
  • What about gestures under the screen, with the homebutton, that allowed you to swipe between differrent safari "windows"
  • pointless much?
  • It won't happen.
    Multiple touh case means you can't put a case on it and of you didn't have a case a d dropped/damaged the body slightly, it would affect the multiple touch performance.
    Not to mention the magic mouse is an awful piece of garbage. Why want out iPhones to work like that.
  • Maybe we could have multitouch and swipe on our screens that allow us to do things like scroll and move between pictures????? Um....o wait.... Sorry that is already an iPhone feature that I can use while my phone is in it's otterbox. It seems like we sometimes take for granted the things the iPhone already does while wondering what the next gen will do
  • What about cases like the Bodyguardz?
  • Yeah, unless apple decided to coat the iphone in some sort of awesome anti-scratch coating, you pretty much have to get a case. It's hard to scratch the glass. Impossibly easy to scratch the back.
  • I really doubt that apple will go this route. I also hope that they don't, I have the magic mouse and I have to say that I really do not like it. I got it when it first came out and have tried to fall in love with it, but as of yet it is the only apple product that I have that I really do not like.
  • I want the app launcher or back button or both.
  • I love my magic mouse, I tell everyone with a mac to get one
  • nooooooooooooooooooooooo
    like yah magic mouse is amazing and all but touch on the back thats stupid
    1-no cases
    2-well hand aching
    3 we only have 2 hands people we are not aliens
  • Cases? That's no problem, actually. People that would plan to use their iPhones as a mouse would no doubt be able to get it out of the case and place it on their desk. Still, I don't think I would use this feature.
  • Jozsoo: clearly you missed the point of the article.
    Anyways, I don't understand all the people who worry so much about scratches on the back that they use a case, only to never look at the pristine condition of the back case...?
    Personally I use only a screen protector on the front, and never even looked at cases. And neither have any of my friends that have iPhones. And there's quite a few.
  • Alex, I worry about it alot. I suppose I'm OC that way. My brother isn't. Perhaps that's why I have a lot of cases lying around the house! Or maybe I just like buying them in different colors.
    Now, if only they'll come in this purple (
  • I'm sick of the plastic casing. I was really excited when the rumors of a matte back surfaced for the 3GS. I hope the 4th generation goes to a matte casing. Plastic feels too cheap and slippery.
  • It would just complicate the phone and waste battery. Pointless. If you want the features of a mighty mouse, buy it!
  • If the phone was more durable then it might be a good thing. People use a case on the iPhone in case they drop it. So I don't think it would be a good thing if it was on the back. Now if they could put it on the front of the phone, that would be cool. I would like to see it on the iPhone though. I think it would be a good thing.
  • A Korean news article is reporting "the coming 4G iPhones will be equipped with organic light emitting diode (OLED) screens on surface and live video chat functionalities, while removable battery is highly likely."
  • Yea and I would not use this, I don't wanna get my screen scratched, am not sliding my screen on my table....
  • Even if this were realistic, why would anyone want their phone preoccupied as a mouse? So, every time you'd want to use your iPhone, you'd have to keep switching back and forth between a real mouse and the phone?
    I liken this idea to using the iPhone as a vehicle-mounted GPS — a hassle.
  • Off topic. Cases only do so much. Most scratch your phone anyways. Not much protection in case of drops niether I have seen phones with cases droped and their screens break anyways.
    Btw I can see swiping movements like the MacBook and magic mouse coming to iPhone 4g. But on the glass side only not the back.
  • I actually think this is a GOOD idea from a design perspective. Think about it... where is your index finger of the hand holding the phone? Yes! It's on the back!! This makes one handed navigation related operations simpler and less carpal-tunnel inducing since you don't have to contort your hand around for thumb swipes. You'd still want to type using the front but if you're just scrolling and swiping screens I think it might be an interesting concept.
  • I saw an interview with Sanjay Jha from Motorola recently. He was talking about new Android handsets coming with some touch capabilities coming to the back of future devices. He didn't say anything about multi-touch of course, but thought it would be interesting if implemented properly. If anybody could it'd be Apple
  • I would like to see no physical buttons. But touch sensitive buttons for power/home/vol +/- ; and for ring/vibrate... Samsung has accomplished this on their LCD televisions, why now a physical buttonless iPhone?
  • Apple would be wise to just steal the gesture area from Palm. If you think Apple would not make the back of the case into a gesture area because most iphone owners use a case just look at the Apple dock or tomtom's car kit, neither of which can be used if your iphone has a case.
  • How about for 4.0 hardware, the magnetic charging cord like on the mac books.
  • I agree with Squanks, this opens up a lot of possibilities especially for Gaming.
    In fact, gaming is about the only area where your fingers are in the way trying to use touch controls on the screen, which might benefit by moving to the back.
    If they could be software enabled/disabled so that they could be turned on for gaming and turned off for normal phone operations it would be great.
  • Amazing, discovered your webpage on digg.Happy I finally tried it out. Unsure if its my Chrome browser,but sometimes when I visit your site, the fonts are really small? Anyway, love your webpage and will be back.Bye
  • having the back be touch sensitive would be stupid for all of us who use a case. I don't even know anyone that does not use a case on their iphone. Just sayin'
  • Touch below the screen would be nice for forward, back, and SCROLL TO BOTTOM!!!!
  • NO.
  • This will be the future iPhone v4 :