Apple's New Sapphire And LiquidMetal Patent Clear Way For New iPhone 6 Design

May 28 2014, 10:38am CDT | by

Something funny has been going on in the Apple leak-o-verse of late. YouTube and the tech blogs are awash in “leaks” of the “iPhone 6 dummy.” One video, released on the French tech blog Nowhereelse.fr features a hand rotating a mockup of a 4.7″ iPhone with winsome Chinese music in the background. We get it, this is a leak from China!

null . Dickson played a big role in the last-minute leaks of what turned out to be actual factory-made backplates for the iPhone 5S and 5C. These leaks set a new standard for iPhone foreknowledge, but it is still unclear who leaked them and why. Fast forward to the 2014 edition of the same show and Dickson is at it again, this time much earlier in the process and with much less credible artifacts. It seems abundantly clear that the current “leaks” are really just manufacturing prototypes, likely 3D printed, created by companies that make iPhone cases. In other words, these are derivative industrial products at best.

The fact that these “dummies” almost certainly do not come from Apple’s actual factories does not, however, mean that their geometry is not accurate. The 4.7″ screen, the iPod Touch-style rounded edges and side buttons, these may well be spot on. These, after all, are the details that the case manufacturers care about, and getting a jump on competitors is the raison d’être for these prototypes. But a product is more than geometry, of course.

In an amusing video on the UrAvgConsumer YouTube channel, Judner Aura shows an iPhone 6 dummy (acquired via Sonny Dickson) to a seemingly random assortment of young New York hipsters. The almost-universal reaction, after the obligatory “Wow,” is that it reminds them of a Samsung phone! Considering that the size of the dummy is similar to the last few Galaxy S smartphones, this is not surprising. But the demonstration, funny as it is, misses the point of what makes Apple products unique and valuable.

Four pieces of Apple news shed some light on what could make the next iPhone, be it “6″ or “Air,” truly unique. First, just yesterday Apple was granted U.S. Patent No. 8,738,104 for “Methods and systems for integrally trapping a glass insert in a metal bezel.” In practical terms this means that it can now seamlessly encase glass, or more likely sapphire, inside of LiquidMetal bezels. Second, Apple has been ramping up sapphire production through its partner GT Advanced Technologies and 9to5Mac reports that sapphire ingots from GTAT have started shipping to one of Apple’s Chinese manufacturing partners. Third, AppleInsider reports that Apple just renewed its exclusive contract to use LiquidMetal in consumer products through 2015. And, according to Jonny Evans at Computer World, “Apple can annually renew its exclusive rights for the rest of time if it wants.” Fourth and finally, LiquidMetal Technologies has signed a more favorable agreement with Visser Precision Cast which previously had an exclusive arrangement to manufacture the material. Under the new agreement, LiquidMetal can contract with other suppliers as well. The move sets the stage for greater adoption of amorphous metal casting technology and, crucially, lower prices.

There is no telling if the machines are actually in gear for this combination of technologies to make it into the next iPhone. The sapphire component seems assured, but no company has reported scaling up LiquidMetal production yet. But the point is that if not now, then next year. This is how Apple makes high-value products, by using materials and processes unavailable to other companies and pairing it with industrial design and user experience finesse that is equally rare.

The supposed prototypes that have been circulating do not have any of that. They are in fact, just dummies, and the design details such that they are seem questionable and not to Apple’s standards. People who think the iPhone 6 dummy looks like a Samsung phone are being dummies themselves! Apple will not come off the manufacturing line with something that is not stunningly beautiful and innovative.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

To keep up with Quantum of Content, please subscribe to my updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter  or add me on Google+.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Man with 'disconnected' brain, alive and kicking at 88!
New York, Sep 1 (IANS) This may sound and read unbelievable but there is an elderly man whose brain has no neural fibre connection between his two hemispheres!
 
 
Women at greater stroke risk from resistant hyper-tension
London, Sep 1 (IANS) The condition known as Resistant Hyper-tension increases stroke risk by 35 percent in women and 20 percent in elderly patients, according to new research.
 
 
World's first battery-less pacemaker in the works
London, Sep 1 (IANS) In a revolutionary breakthrough for heart patients, scientists have come up with a way to power a cardiac pacemaker with an alternative energy source - the heart motion.
 
 
New blood test to reliably detect TB in kids
London, Sep 1 (IANS) About one million children per year develop tuberculosis (TB) worldwide, but unfortunately detecting TB in children has been a challenge as the symptoms are often non-specific and similar to those of common paediatric illnesses, including pneumonia and malnutrition.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Modi stresses on women empowerment, education
Tokyo, Sep 2 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday stressed on the need for women's empowerment in the present-day world. Modi, who was addressing students of the Sacred Hearts University here, said he has...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Country with knowledge will lead world: Modi
Tokyo, Sep 2 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday said that 21st century is the century of knowledge and the country with "knowledge and information will lead the world". "...the one who has knowledge and...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Eight killed in China landslides
Beijing, Sep 2 (IANS) At least eight people were killed and 24 missing Tuesday after heavy rains caused landslides in China's Chongqing province. Rescue teams, including fire-fighters and police, have evacuated over 7...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Spain returns Colombian treasure
Bogota, Sep 2 (IANS/EFE) Spain has returned to Colombia 691 indigenous artefacts seized in a police operation 11 years ago. The items - from different epochs, cultures and regions, include objects with organic and...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Travel across India for enhanced learning: Modi
Tokyo, Sep 2 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday asked IT experts to step out of their rooms and travel across India to enhance their learning. "You will learn as much outside your rooms as you will learn...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
New anti-terror measures to be introduced in Britain: Cameron
London, Sep 2 (IANS) British Prime Minister David Cameron Monday said his country will introduce a slew of measures to prevent terror suspects from travelling abroad, imposing tougher constraints on suspected...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
I don't enjoy my voice: Romeo Santos
Los Angeles, Sep 2 (IANS) Singer Romeo Santos is often baffled by fans who pay to listen to him sing, because he hates his own voice. The 33-year-old says he hates both his speaking and singing voice, reports...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Eight killed in France building collapse
Paris, Sep 2 (IANS/EFE) As many as eight people have died due to a building collapse in Paris till Monday, French emergency management services said. Firefighters had recovered before dawn Monday the bodies of two...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Modi focuses on women's empowerment, education
Tokyo, Sep 2 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday stressed on the need for women's empowerment in the present-day world as he began the fourth day of his visit to Japan. Modi, who was addressing students of the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
George Clooney's back pain continues
Los Angeles, Sep 2 (IANS) Almost 10 years after filming the Oscar-nominated movie "Syriana", actor George Clooney is still feeling the effects of his on-set back injury. The actor traveled to Duke University earlier...
Read more on Celebrity Balla