Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

Summary: It's easier to predict what the iPhone hardware changes will be than it is to try to guess what Apple will do when it comes down to the external design of the thing.

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Question of the day:

'We know that the hardware will be redesigned, but do you think Apple will completely redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S (whatever it ends up being called) like it did between the 3GS and 4, or will it be minor cosmetic changes like it was between the 3 and 3GS?'

Good question!

Note: For the sake of brevity, I'm calling the new iPhone the 'iPhone 5' until we know any better come October 4 and Apple's 'Let's talk iPhone' event.

The strange thing about the iPhone is that it's easier to predict what the hardware changes will be than it is to try to guess what Apple will do when it comes down to the external design of the thing. For the record, here's what I think (that is, a guess, based on rumors, whispers, speculation and forward-thinking) the new iPhone will pack in terms of hardware:

  • Dual-core A5 processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • Combined GSM/CDMA support
  • 8 megapixel camera (I keep hearing talk of a light sensor on the back of the handset) with panorama support
  • No NFC (Near Field Communication)

But none of this tells us a thing about the design, so it's down to guesswork, rumors ... and cases.

As my ZDNet blogging buddy Jason O'Grady pointed out yesterday, there are a lot of iPhone 5 cases in China, so either case OEMs already know what the new iPhone is going to look like, or someone sold them an expensive dud.

Here's a video tour showing just how broad a range of cases there are for a handset that hasn't yet been released:

From this video we get some possible information:

  • Teardrop design
  • Wider to accommodate a larger screen
  • 33% thinner
  • Mute switch on the right-hand-side

Is this what the new iPhone will look like? Maybe ... about the only think that I'm certain of is that the new handset will be thinner.

If Apple does abandon the iPhone 4 look in favor of teardrop shape (essentially going back to the older design) then it eliminate two aspects of the iPhone 4 that caused problems for people:

  • External antenna ... remember 'Antennagate'?
  • Fragile rear-glass panel

If the design does change, it'll be interesting to see if Apple tries to justify that change in any way. I remember the iPhone 4 design being hailed as the best thing in he history of best things.

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Topics: Smartphones, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

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Talkback

16 comments
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  • RE: Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

    The big feature will be a personal assistant. It's probably worth noting, even if it's not a design point.
    playmusic
  • RE: Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

    There's little reason to completely redesign a model which already is shown to work well. Would think the biggest change will come in software, but would expect the exterior to only be a minor changes. Could be wrong though.
    <a href="http://www.tmesolutions.co.uk">Web Design Kent</a>
    Ash88
    • RE: Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

      @Ash88 I feel the same way. The 4 design was just fine, but that rarely stops Apple from changing a design.

      I think the rear glass is definitely gone. I also think the phone will look more like a 3GS than a 4. In the end, it won't matter. As long as they don't make it incredibly ugly, people will keep buying it for the software/hardware ecosystem and ease of use.
      BillDem
  • Adrian, AnandTech testing proved that iPhone 4 antenna is many times more

    ... reliable in weak signal areas than ordinary design. And less than 2% of buyers needed a case when Apple was offering it for free last year during three months.<br><br>That is hard data.<br><br><b>So Apple was correct, hailing iPhone 4 antenna design,</b> and "Antennagate" was typical delusional mass-media bubble, blown partly because of ignorance, and partly because of money (click-bating, page views count inflating trick).
    DDERSSS
  • Ooops

    "about the only think that I???m certain of is that the new handset will be thinner."

    Should be "thing" not "think"
    KSLGW95
  • Apple's problem is that with iPhone 4 design they can not make the phone ..

    @Ash88: ... much thinner than it already is. So they might need to make the phone wider and longer, and then thinning will be possible. Thus maybe the leaked cases indeed tell the right story.
    DDERSSS
  • RE: Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

    I like the look of the iPhone 4, not so much that weird tear shaped thing that leaked a while back.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

    There is no need to redesign the iPhone, you are holding it wrong.
    LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
  • Apple probably doesn't need to do anything

    With 50% of the mobile market already committed to buying the iPhone 5, Apple simply needs to not screw up.

    I'm personally really looking forward to iOS 5. Apple has taken all the best bits from all the other mobile OSs and has finally added them into iOS. My iPhone 4 is about to get a lot better and that is good for me.

    Not so good for Android.

    Or WP7.

    Or BlackBerry.
    toddybottom
  • RE: Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

    I think at this point in the game, Apple needs to have a design change. Android devices are coming with larger and larger screens. So, the tiny screens on the previous iPhone generations are looking a bit long in the tooth.
    puffmanxx
  • RE: Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

    Bigger screen - thinner
    shsdarwin
  • Question Adrian?

    You seem to have a good deal of insight into the hardware; any chance of 64GB or at least something bigger than the current 32GB?
    MichaelWells
  • RE: Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

    Let's hope Apple can change its clunky, heavy and chunky phone into something that resembles a modern smartphone.

    One huge step would be to design it so it doesn't need a case ;-)
    tonymcs1
    • RE: Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

      @tonymcs@... Yet not matter what they do they will always be ahead of WP7 devices right ;-)
      non-biased
  • RE: Will Apple redesign the look of the iPhone 5/4S?

    i hope they keep the current design, it's the best ever, jst make the screen larger will do for me.
    gundam_0083
  • Two phones?

    I will be more surprised than not if the iPhone 5 is not a slimmer, wider, teardrop design, as the cases indicate.

    The bigger question is whether there will be a second phone. I think so, but it will probably just be a cost reduced iPhone 4. It may have a plastic or even metal back (electrically isolated from the sides) instead of glass, and possibly less memory. Apple has always kept the previous generation in the channel, so the only break this would represent would be tweaking the design of that model.
    lonniemcclure