Soon after receiving the first image shown here, we were sent from a different manufacturer a mockup of how another iPhone 5 case would look. This release seems to corroborate many of the features indicated by the first image.
If these images are authentic – and we have every reason to believe that they are – then the iPhone 5 is a radical evolution of the iPhone concept, and a bigger departure from the iPhone 4 than previous case images have shown.
DisplayStarting with the front of the phone, we can see that the screen size has been extended considerably, from 3.5 inches to 4, although the overall size of the phone has remained the same. This has been accomplished by shrinking the bezel such that no space is wasted; the display stretches from edge to edge, and the top and bottom bezels have been considerably reduced in size as well.
It’s possible this ties into a patent filed by Apple a few months ago, which suggests that the extra space will be used for on-screen indicators and controls. These indicators could then be hidden, à la Lion’s full screen apps, to maximuse screen space for applications like 1080p video playback.
Form FactorAnother interesting point is the curvature of the iPhone 5. After going with a squared construction on the iPhone 4, Apple seem to have reverted to their curvaceous ways. The iPhone 5′s rear panel curves gently back around its edges, much like the iPhone 3G.
This likely means that the back will be metal, and could serve as a replacement for the iPhone 4′s unique side antennae which seemed revolutionary at the time, but caused so much trouble with call droppage last year.
On the other hand, Apple does have the capability to produce curved glass, after its purchase of a few hundred glass cutting machines, which were said to be too expensive for manufacturers. Curved glass doesn’t appear to be being used on the front display, but could very well make up the back.
The case shown in the design document does include a gap for the Apple logo; this may lend credence to rumours that the logo itself will serve as the iPhone 5′s attenae. This feature isn’t present on the second image however, so it may simply be a design choice between the two case manufacturers rather than a technical requirement.
ControlsSteve Jobs originally intended for the iPhone to be buttonless, but found he couldn’t quite get away with it. It looks like he’s some way closer to that goal with the iPhone 5; the physical home screen button has been replaced with a touch-sensitive ovaloid area which takes up the middle half of the bottom border. This area might be used for unique multi-touch gestures, given its increased size.
Another big difference is the placement of the side buttons; according to the design document these are now placed on the opposite side of the phone. The lock toggle is therefore quite close to the camera, but the volume buttons have moved much further down the phone, sitting just below the halfway point. It’s possible that these, and the lock button on the top, have been changed to be touch-sensitive rather than being physical buttons.