Update: A lot happened in the days following this article. I can only smile at the confirmation on most if not all my assumptions by the leak of the year. :)
Is this the iPhone 4G?
One thing is certain. It is some sort of iPhone. Whether it is just a prototype or the production model is another story. One other thing is certain. It would not be called the iPhone 4G.
There are however some very interesting details about it that give away the fact that it's a next generation hardware by Apple. I believe its actually a revolutionary approach to building phones, just as Apple did with the unibody Macbooks.
It's not a fake by any means and I hope Apple will not change stuff just because they lost a prototype.
Here is what I noticed:
1. No screen bezel. All aluminum frame
While the screen bezel was a beautiful touch, it was actually part of the supporting structure for the components. With this new model, Apple has taken a new approach to internal hardware design. As seen from the pic showing the internal hardware, the main supporting structure for the device is a 1 or 2 piece unibody aluminum frame.
The advantages here are quite obvious too:
- Maximum torsion strength and minimum weight
- very cheap to produce
- machine process commonality with all other Apple products
- fully recyclable
- access from top and bottom with equal ease
2. It has a full edge to edge top and bottom glass cover.
How revolutionary is that? Apple has to work some obvious problems like, will it crack easily it the iPhone is dropped, is the brick form-factor comfortable to hold and all these finger print smudges. However the advantages are way more impressive:
- Perfect signal reception
- Almost no cost to manufacture
- fully recyclable
- scratch resistant
- easy to replace if broken
- no holes needed for camera or flash
- iMac/iPad approach to screen gorgeousness
- glass panels help with bending moments
3. Size and feel of the new design
While, there is no way of knowing how much it would weigh or the exact size, I suspect this to be the thinnest iPhone yet, perhaps around 10 mm or less. The overall size however, remains the same. The report that is had been found in an existing iPhone 3G case is interesting. Replacing a plastic back and steal frame with all aluminum and glass parts does sound like it could reduce the weight somewhat.
4. Front Camera and LED flash
While these were all expected, integrating them behind the glass for protection is well....ingenious in a way only Apple can achieve. It's just so simple, elegant and efficient. There is just one LED component, while all other phones feature two.
5. Ports, button and other notes of interest.
- Volume controls are now two separate buttons which should dramatically make it easier to press, improve reliability and damage tolerance
- SIM card port is moved to the right side. Kind of logical since cramping too many openings on top would have made this section of the phone substantially weaker.
- It's interesting if the small hole next to the headphone jack is noise canceling microphone. It makes more sense to have one now, since in video chat you will not hold the phone close to you for clear audio reception.
- I cannot say much about the internal except that they look even more beautifully and efficiently laid out. The speaker/microphone assembly actually looks quite substantial. Possibly finally solving the 3 year complain of good output volume.
- The two seams on the aluminum bezel do indicate a two piece frame assembly. I actually think, they will be gone on the production model. There is no reason Apple cannot manufacture the frame as a single part, aka unibody.
- The new design absent of complex curved shapes will be much more easy for case/dock developers.
- The flat back, thin design and OS 4 features will allow for one longtime dream of many users: An iPhone case with slide out bluetooth keyboard.
- I really like how Apple how found a way to simplify the whole design down to it two favorite materials: Glass and Aluminum. First the Macbook Pros, then the iMac, now the iPad. The iPhone could be next, followed by the iPods.
- I cannot stress this enough. Apple has found a way to produce just 2 glass and 2 aluminum parts that hold all other non Apple produced components. If they also put in their own SoC silicon now, this phone will have an incredibly low production price, giving Apple's phone not just quality but cost advantage. How do you beat that HTC?
I have never been more confident in the future of the iPhone platform than after writing these thoughts. Apple is taking an all out engineering and design assault on how a smartphone is made, innovating right down to its internal design.
This summer's iPhone will indeed going to be a " A+ upgrade" as his highness Steve Jobs said.