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

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.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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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