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iPhone 5: Rumor roundup

There are no shortage of iPhone 5 related rumors making the rounds. But talk is cheap, so I tend to put more stock in rumors that are associated with hardware. Here I sift through the current hardware leaks and take a look at what the alleged hardware parts might tell us about Apple's forthcoming iPhone.

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Topic: iPhone
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1 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

One of the best sources for alleged iPhone 5 hardware leaks has been the parts supplier ETradeSupply. 

Back in June the company posted a video of a metal chassis purporting to be the new iPhone 5 chassis.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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2 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The new chassis is quite different to that of the exisiting iPhone 4S. To begin with, the glass panel on the back has been replaced with metal.

The chassis shows machining and tooling marks consistant with how Apple machines materials.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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3 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

It has been suggested that the new chassis could be made out of a super-tough amorphous titanium alloy known as Liquidmetal. This alloy is used for a number of strange applications, from the SIM eject tool for the iPhone, as a bezel for expensive wristwatches, and as a projectile to pierce tank armor.

The lack of a removable glass panel on the back of the iPhone 5 will no doubt make the handset more robust, but it will also make removing the battery much more difficult.

It is likely that just as with the iPad 3, Apple will have to use copious amounts to glue to hold the iPhone 5 together, and this glue makes it very difficult to take apart for repair.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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4 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

This leaked metal chassis corresponds closely to a blueprint image leaked back in May.

Image source: Cydia Blog.

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5 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The underside of the alleged iPhone 5 chassis shows some significant differences. Along with the addition of a headphone connector (moved from the top) and a larger speaker grill, there's also a significantly smaller dock connector hole.

Rumors relating to this revamped dock connector suggest that Apple is . A 19-pin, 16-pin and even 8-pin connector has been rumored, although no evidence for any of these has surfaced.

It has also been rumored that the new connector will be magnetic, similar to the MagSafe connectors that Apple uses on MacBooks.

If the dock changes then this could mean that all current iPhone accessories are rendered obsolete overnight unless Apple makes the new dock backwards compatible with the old dock.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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6 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The new chassis shows that the new iPhone could be longer than the current iPhone 4S. This makes more room for a larger screen -- and presumably a bigger battery.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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7 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

While the new metal chassis is longer than that of the iPhone 4S, the width of the handset remains the same.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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8 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

By retaining the same width, the thumb is still free to be able to travel across the  entirity of the screen. A wider screen -- as found on a number of Android handsets -- are more difficult to use single-handed.

In March, a report by The Strategy Analytics Wireless Device Lab claimed that almost 90 percent of smartphone ownerswant a smartphone with screen in the 4.0-inch to 4.5-inch range, as long as the device is thin.

Smartphones sporting 4.5-inch displays are pretty large beasts. Take the LG Optimus 4G LTE, for example. This handset measures 133.9 x 67.9 x 10.5 mm, which doesn’t sound much until you put it up against the iPhone 4S, which measures in at 115.2 x 68.6 x 9.3 mm. That might not sound like a big difference, but in your hand it is.

On the iPhone my thumb comfortably travels across the screen, but with a larger handset I can’t do this, which turns using the handset into a two-handed job. This is not always an issue, but for tapping out a quick text message or email, having to wield a big smartphone is a disadvantage rather than an advantage.


Image source: iLab Factory.

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9 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The headphone connector appears to have been moved from the top of the iPhone and instead is on the bottom on the handset.

Reasons for moving the headphone connector range from helping to make the iPhone more rain resistant to allowing it to be leveraged in a dock.

The position of the power button does not seem to have been changed.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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10 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The new metal chassis shows a smaller SIM card slot.

It is likely that the iPhone 5 will still use the micro SIM and not the next-generation 4FF nano-SIM.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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11 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The new SIM card tray is much smaller than the current tray, suggesting that Apple has worked hard to save space inside the iPhone 5, going as far as shrinking something as seemingly unimportant as the SIM card tray.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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12 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The new chassis also suggests that the new iPhone will be significantly thinner than the existing iPhone 4S. The screen is unlikely to add much to the overall thickness of the device.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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13 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The hole for the noise-cancelling microphone, which currently is on the top of the device, seems to have been moved to the back of the handset.

Image source: iLab Factory.

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14 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The volume control buttons, mute switch and Home button also seem to have been revamped.

The Home button is slightly smaller than the one currently used on the iPhone, by a small but significant 0.3 mm.

Image source: iLab Factory.

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15 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

A few revamped internal components have also surfaced, although nothing as exciting as a mainboard.

Shown here is the Home button flex cable, the power flex cable and a sensor cable.

Image source: iLab Factory.

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16 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Earlier this month, ETradeSupply came across what they claim is the front lens for the iPhone 5. This is the glass plate -- presumably made of Corning Gorilla glass -- that covers the LCD assembly.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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17 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The new lens suggests that the new iPhone 5 will have a larger screen than that of the existing iPhone.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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18 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The width of the new screen appears to remain the same.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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19 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Measurements suggest that the new iPhone 5 will have a 4-inch screen, as previously rumored

The current iPhone has a 3:2 aspect ratio, but increasing this to 16:9 -- the aspect ratio used for widescreen TV and movies -- allow for a 4-inch screen to maintain a pixel density close to that of the current screen, while also allowing the screen to fit into a handset no bigger than the current iPhone.

It has been suggested too that the iPhone 5 could have a super-high-density screen.

It has been rumored that Apple will to move to a solution called in-cell technology with the iPhone 5 where both the screen and touch sensor layers combined into a single layer, as opposed to the current setup where these are two layers. The new in-cell panels are expected to be both cheaper to produce and thinner than the current panels.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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20 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The new lens is 0.9 mm thick, some 0.1 mm thinner than the current lens.

This might not seem like much, but it's a lot when you consider that the current iPhone is only 9.3 mm thin.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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21 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

To the eye, the new lens appears to have better light transmission than the existing lens.

The quality of the leaked lens leads some to believe that it is a genuine part. I've seen a lot of low-quality, third-party lenses for iPhones, and usually they are slightly thicker, have poorer light transmission and are weaker and scratch and break easier.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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22 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Sensor holes and the camera seem to have been rearranged.

Until we see the components, we can't tell why these sensors have been rearranged.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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23 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Details of the sensor hole rearangement.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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24 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The black bezel above and below the screen also appear to have shrunk.

The bottom part of the bezel has shrunk from 18.0 mm to 15.4 mm.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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25 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

In a scratch-test, the new iPhone 5 lens appears to be a significantly more scratch-resistant than the existing lens.

Image source: ETradeSupply.

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26 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The rearranged screw holes in the chassis suggests a significantly smaller dock connector.

Image source: iLab Factory.

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27 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Photos have turned up claiming to show Apple's revamped iPhone 5 dock connector plug, showing 8 electrical contacts on each site of the plug.

The images were posted on the French website Nowherelse.fr, but no details have been offered as to the origin of the photos.

Image source: Nowherelse.fr.

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28 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Repair site iResQ posted photos of an assembled iPhone 5 next to an iPhone 4S which showed just how much Apple seems to have managed to shave off the thickness of the new iPhone. The difference is essentially the same as removing the glass backplate from the iPhone 4S.

Image source: iResQ.

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29 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

There have also been a number of rumors pointing to the fact that the iPhone 5 will feature a new, smaller SIM card called the nano SIM or 4FF. The new SIM card tray seems to confirm that the SIM card format has been changed.

Image source: Nowhereelse.fr.

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30 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The new nano SIM is shown here on the left, next to a regular SIM with a micro SIM cutout.

Based on the information currently available it seems that it will be possible to trim exisitng SIM cards to fit the iPhone 5.

Image source: iFun.

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31 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

That new dock connector means a new USB cable ... and believe it or not, that's also appears to have been leaked. the cable came from USB cable makers Veister.

Image source: Veister.

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32 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

There's also a video that allegedly shows a completed iPhone 5 booting up into iOS 6. this handset has allegedly come straight from the factory in Jincheng, China.

This is quite compelling evidence, but I'm concerned that the fit and finish of the handset seems somewhat poor, poorer than I'd expect from an Apple product.

Image source: YouTube/Vgooo.

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33 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The fit and finish of the iPhone 5 shown booting into iOS 6 seems poor. The screws near the dock is an example. Also, the screws appear to be standard Philips head screws, not the pentalobe screws that Apple currently uses.

Image source: Vgooo.

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34 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Rumor had it that the iPhone 5 would be kitted out with NFC technology, and that the metal square in the image above was that chip. However, on closer inspection is turns out that this was the earpiece speaker.

Image source: Sonny Dickson.

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35 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Here is the speaker element inside the alledged NFC chip.

Image source: Sonny Dickson.

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36 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

If the leaks of all the iPhone 5 hardware  wasn't enough, Vietnamese website has photos and video of what it claims to be the new headphones that will ship with the iPhone 5. 

These appear to be dramatically redesigned.

Image source: Tinhte.vn.

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37 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

It has been long rumored that Apple was getting ready to abandon the 30-pin dock connector that has adorned every iPhone and iPad every made with something a bit more svelte and compact. A video posted by repair firm SmartPhone Medic gives us a first look at the new connector.

Image source: SmartPhone Medic/YouTube.

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38 of 38 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Here's a closeup of the dock connector.

Image source: SmartPhone Medic/YouTube.

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