iPhone 5 to have metal back, less than 4-inch display?

On last night's iPhone Live podcast we discussed the just announced Samsung Galaxy S II models and what, if any, challenge they may pose for Apple's upcoming iPhone 5. One of the big differences is that, while iPhones are pretty much the same on every carrier around the world (Verizon iPhone antenna and firmware version being the only current exception), Samsung Galaxy S phones have varied a lot from network to network.

Some have keyboards and others don't. Some have bigger or smaller screens. They often have completely different casings from one carrier to another. Some carriers work out deals to take out Google Search and put in Microsoft's Bing. Some pre-load carrier-specific crapware. Maybe some will one day have Amazon Market instead of the Android Market -- like the JooJooPhone!

The bottom line is, with an iPhone you can buy one on pretty much any carrier you want, or unlocked directly from Apple, hook it up to iTunes (or soon, iCloud) and get your iPhone just the way you left it -- same apps, same interface, zero learning curve. The price we pay is that everything is the same. There's no variety.

With Samsung and some other Android devices, you can change things up as often as you're willing to switch networks or get a new phone. You get almost endless variety but you may have to re-learn interfaces or re-buy apps.

I prefer Apple's approach. I don't want the cognitive load that comes with carrier-specific hardware and software. I want the device and the OS to get out of my -- and my apps' -- way. But I definitely see the appeal of changing things up, of having phones as fashion.

Would you like to see a different iPhone on AT&T compared to Verizon? Square on one, round on the other? AT&T iPhone 5 vs. Spring iPhone 4 II Epic 4G? Do you like the single, iconic iPhone the way it is or do you think it's time for Apple to let carriers mix things up?