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Further checks: leaked iPhone a testbed, has ceramic back

updated 10:10 pm EDT, Sun April 18, 2010

Next-gen iPhone sighting may not be final design

(Updated with backing details) The now widespread leaked new iPhone received additional confirmation tonight from tech writer John Gruber. After contacting sources, the historically accurate blogger now believes the device is an authentic test mule that was simply lost. The situation may be urgent as the iPhone is "a unit Apple is very interested in getting back," the writer said.

It's unclear why the shell was claimed to be a Japanese copy by a Spanish site earlier this weekend, but the example is no longer thought to necessarily represent the final model. The seemingly thicker and less refined body may at once be due to its pre-production nature but also to hide the design by letting testers fit the prototype in existing iPhone cases and mask the obvious differences.

The new smartphone is believed by Gruber and others to be a significant revamp even in its current state, with a high-resolution (possibly 960x640) screen and a front video camera being the most notable changes. A 5-megapixel camera with flash, 720p recording and playback, and the inclusion of a variant of the iPad's A4 processor are all considered probable as well.

Update: In a follow-up to comments regarding a "glass" back on the new model, Gruber has added that multiple sources understand this to be true and that it may actually be the results of a 2006 ceramic enclosure patent that would give the appearance of glass but with a much tougher, scratch-resistant build. It would be much more radio transparent and in some cases transmit 90 percent or more of the signal perfectly.

The nearly four year old patent would also open the door to colors being infused directly into the ceramic material and would resist structural problems stemming from rapid changes in temperature.

by MacNN Staff



    Comment buried. Show
  1. facebook_Kevin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Apr 2010


    There's no confusion at all to why this happened.

    Look...Apple, for the first time ever, has REAL competition in the smart phone market. Droid has been slamming this sector. They are getting their new software/hardware out FIRST. So in a rare move, Apple leaks a peek at the next iPhone to re-ensure investors. (customers don't care as they'd never leave iPhone)

    It's a good but precarious move as it does show a weakness to the mighty powers of Google.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This model does solve a lot of the current problems with the iPhone
    - it looks cheaper to make
    - replaceable battery's
    - better wifi and GSM reception
    - tougher?
    - sim-slot
    The ceramic back would also be the reason for the new form-factor as it probably can't be made round like the current model. It probably looks better in real life than these pictures but it definitely would be a step backwards. But that hasn't stopped Apple with the iPod nano, at a certain point its function over form.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Has to be a test mule

    There's just no way Apple could release an iPhone that dog-butt ugly. Leave that to Dell and HTC and the other wannabes.

    By the way, the Apple zirconium dioxide enclosure patent shows a smoothly rounded design, kind of like the old iPod mini's aluminum enclosure. Not an Oreo-like sandwich, like the prototype in the photos.

    Oh, and one more thing: Apple updates the iPhone's design just once a year. This lets the Droid crowd try things, get them all wrong, then sends them back to the drawing board every summer when "This Year's iPhone" is unveiled.

    This is what all the high fashion designers do every year. The new collection is rolled out, the rest of the industry copies and waters down the major designers' ideas, and by the time Wal Mart has gotten cheap knockoffs for sale, it's time for the new collection to be rolled out.

    Same thing in the auto industry. This is the 2011 BMW 6-Series, hideously camouflaged, being tested at the Nuerburgring in Germany: cabriolet pix:, hardtop video: Once actual road testing is needed, the near-final prototype is covered with prosthetics and wild patterns to make it impossible to see its true details.

    I suspect Apple is doing that with the 2010 iPhone. No need to reveal the final design until it's absolutely necessary. As for the iPhone OS 4.0 software already having been shown, it makes sense to give developers advance access to new features so they can update their apps before the new hardware is launched. I can't wait.

  1. Wingsy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    On the planet I live on, Droid is slamming any doors. While it's true that their ascent to marketshare is pretty impressive (every new product initially has an infinite rate of climb), their numbers aren't "slamming" anyone's doors. Certainly not Apple's iPhone. Android will be successful, there is no doubt in my mind about that. It almost has to, since the iPhone isn't available to about half the US population (ATT only). Those people have to buy SOMETHING.

    Let's take a look at your list of iPhone problems.
    - Looks cheaper to make. Is it that it IS cheaper to make, or that it just looks cheap? Please tell us how a Zirconia backplate is cheaper to make than plastic. And how is this a problem?
    - Replaceable battery. Yes, this may solve a problem for 0.1% of iPhone users. I've seen it solved already by that snap-on back cover with its internal battery.
    - Better wifi and GSM reception. I've seen comparisons of the iPhone and other brands and the results show a dead heat. There is always a desire for better reception but so far this isn't a problem specific to the iPhone. We can hope that the new design makes reception even better.
    - Tougher? Glad you put that question mark on there, cause now I know you're as confused about this being a problem as much as I am.
    - Sim-slot. Why is this a problem? I have access to my sim card and never realized I had a problem doing that.

    The only real problems I have with my iPhone is prying it out of the hands of the resident 4-year-old female and finding room on the home screens for MY apps. (Finally, FOLDERS are coming!)

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Or maybe it's a red herring

    On the other hand, let's say somebody at Apple intentionally let the thing be found. Say Steve wants to hit the cloners hard. So, he orders an employee to show off a plausible-looking development mule in public, then pretend to lose it. Apple then remote-wipes it so it's bricked.

    Now, since it contains what appear to be authentic Apple guts, the Chinese cloners assume it's a real 2010 iPhone and start working immediately on their counterfeits. They will work for what, 2 months, to copy this design. Only to find out that the real 2010 iPhone is completely different. All their effort is wasted, and since time = money, Steve has hit them where it hurts.

    Didn't a similar thing happen with the 3GS? I seem to recall that several case makers released cases for what they though would be the 2009 iPhone, weeks in advance. There were spy photos of the supposed new form factor, different than the 3G, with precise diagrams and measurements. But the 3GS ended up being nearly identical to the 2008 3G and all those cases, made in the rush to be first to market, wouldn't fit. Served the idiots right.

  1. spyintheskyuk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Delusions of grandeur

    Wow Kevin from the first comment must be an extra from Flash Forward... or more likely a delusional wannabe who believes its a documentary if he believes he can read a crystal ball that clearly. Heard similar delusional talk yesterday from Palm fanatics about how, if their own particular love child is acquired by Cisco the end of the iPhone era is guaranteed. And they say humans are sentient beings, clearly not in all cases.

  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    Replaceable battery's could be to comply with EU or other regulations, for the other points i indeed don't have real arguments.

    Maybe it is a HTC model running iPhone OS, licensing out the OS to other handset makers would be an effective way to combat Google and conquer the smartphone market.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. facebook_Chad

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Apr 2010



    That actually makes sense. I like this idea a lot.


  1. DiabloConQueso

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The conspiracy theorists are out in droves today!

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Droid isn't doing much at all...

    at least as far as Motorola is concerned. Motorola has been downgraded again because the Droid is yesterday's soiled underpants at Verizon. Apple only needs to make incremental advances with the iPhone because the loyal Apple consumer is not going to leave the platform behind for a couple of missing features that Android offers. Only the geeks constantly jump from smartphone to smartphone for such stupid reasons.

    Pundits continue to say that Apple has some serious competition due to the rapid proliferation of Android handsets. All Android is doing is fragmenting sales to different companies. There are too many Android handsets being introduced and potential buyers will only be confused at which one to choose. Some models will find favor and most will not. The iPhone will continue to be the well-known iPhone and there's no confusion over that.

    Whatever new iPhone Apple introduces will be a well-designed device even if it doesn't have all the features of some Android wonder handset. If Apple can get more memory in it, have a faster processor and much longer battery life, it will continue to be the smartphone to beat for the growing Apple fans.

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