Apple to forge 'iPhone 8' chassis from stainless steel, report says

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 10
A rumor out of East Asia on Tuesday suggests Apple might ditch aluminum for forged stainless steel in crafting its next-generation iPhone, lending credence to predictions of an "iPhone 8" with "glass sandwich" design.




Citing Taiwanese sources, hit-or-miss publication DigiTimes reports Apple has bypassed usual supplier Foxconn and placed orders for forged stainless steel iPhone casings from manufacturing partner Jabil.

Apple's last iPhone to rely on stainless steel was the iPhone 4s, which wrapped two CNC-machined bands made from a bespoke steel alloy around a "glass-sandwich" body. Since the iPhone 5 series, however, Apple has favored aluminum as the metal of choice for iPhone. The lightweight yet durable alloy is a Cupertino favorite used to manufacture everything from iPhone 7 and 7s to Apple Watch to Mac.

After the iPhone 6 "bend-gate" fiasco in 2014, which claimed the handset could be easily deformed, Apple switched to 7000-series aluminum first applied in the original Apple Watch.

While Apple is rumored to return to steel with the "iPhone 8" chassis, the fabrication process will be notably different from that of iPhone 4 and 4s. In particular, the company is said to be using a metal forging method instead of common billet milling.

Forging is a machining method that essentially squeezes a metal alloy between two halves of a mold -- tool and die -- to form a finished part. Compared to components crafted using subtractive machining methods like CNC, forged blanks provide superlative structural rigidity and can in some cases afford greater latitude in the design process.

Considering Apple's penchant for finely finished products, and the need for details like internal screw threads and anchor points, it is likely that CNC tooling will play at least a small role in construction.

Mac Otakara noted the potential move to stainless steel earlier today.

Today's rumor is consistent with reports suggesting a next-generation handset will adopt a substantially glass design when it debuts later this year. Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo first revealed Apple's plans for a glass-backed iPhone last April, since expanding the prediction to include exotic technologies like an OLED display, wireless charging, an invisible home button and more.

As always, Apple is expected to thin down iPhone's general profile in 2017, making the need for strong, lightweight materials a necessity. If the product also borrows design cues from iPhone 7, specifically curved edges, it could explain the decision to forge rather than mill.
1983
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 54
    Everyone needs to stop reporting Digitimes. They have one of the worst track records of rumors. The ones they got right were simply taken from more reputable (earlier) rumors.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 2 of 54
    So basically recycling the iPhone 4 design? Call me skeptical.
    dasanman69
  • Reply 3 of 54
    I'm so looking forward to the new design. I also think that the article does not at all imply only a "recycled" iPhone 4 design based on the information about different processes and materials used. 
    edited January 10 StrangeDays
  • Reply 4 of 54
    Wallet open and ready.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 54
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 1,599member
    So basically recycling the iPhone 4 design? Call me skeptical.
    That's what we always call you… amongst other things. 
    stanthemananalogjackmacplusplus1983Solipscooter63StrangeDaysbrucemcshikotsumyakuwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 54
    Please banish bespoke from your vocabulary. 
    williamlondonSpamSandwichpscooter63StrangeDaysbadmonkstompy
  • Reply 7 of 54
    True or not,

    Oh Apple, please stop with the thinness.  Yes, it's the bragging point of the universe, but we are there at the great paradise of thinness in laptop and phone and pad. Headphone jack removal meant I cannot buy any new iPhones (I am on my phone all day for work) so the thinning of the phone lost one sale, and likely I have to hold onto my 6s forever.  At this wonderful current thinness (before 7 and Touchbar) most folks add cases anyway.  Make the phone much thinner and I will cut myself on it.  :-)  Battery life and function are at this stage far far far far more important to me and most others than the bragging rights of the thinnest out there.  Yes yes, Steve Jobs pulled the Air out of a paper envelope and that was impressive.  Even he would have known not to carry this on forever.  Now the latest laptop is missing so much many might buy something from OWC that adds back thickness and function.  Trouble is they also had to first pay the super high premium price for the thinning of the laptop.  Oh, and a case with a headphone jack.  Yep, the same there too.  There comes a point where you have arrived, but even Apple failed to notice that.  Add AR.  Increase battery life to the moon. But stop before you go anorexic.  Please.  That also takes courage.  

    (The trick would have been to addict everyone to the AirPods and then, after a few Generations of AirPod improvement, THEN ditch the headphone jack).  
    williamlondonAI_liasfreethinkingmrboba1
  • Reply 8 of 54
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 3,612member
    If Apple comes out with a modern version of the iPhone4 chassis, I'll be the first one in line to get one.  It's still by far (imho) the most elegant, gorgeous phone ever made.  Just as Steve Jobs said, "Like an old Leica".  
    waverboykiowavtaknabi1983macplusplusmacxpressericthehalfbeeAI_liaspscooter63StrangeDays
  • Reply 9 of 54
    sflocal said:
    If Apple comes out with a modern version of the iPhone4 chassis, I'll be the first one in line to get one.  It's still by far (imho) the most elegant, gorgeous phone ever made.  Just as Steve Jobs said, "Like an old Leica".  
    This. The iPhone 4 looked awesome. And it was a very sturdy piece of hardware. I'd gladly trade the current look for a modern take on the 4. My old 4 still looks great by today's standards. But it's a bit thick and the screen is a bit small :)

    a glass sandwhich would would be my preference. I bet they do a polished stainless like the watch as one option. It would look good in ceramic white as well as jet black. 
    1983pscooter63
  • Reply 10 of 54
    19831983 Posts: 887member
    bluefire1 said:
    Wallet open and ready.
    Yes...if true.
  • Reply 11 of 54
    I was hoping they'd make a limited edition where each phone is hewn from a single giant redwood.
    SpamSandwichicoco3williamlondonpatchythepirateStrangeDaysstompy
  • Reply 12 of 54
    All this attention on the appearance and thinness of the phone is a bit ridiculous...

    Not only does it violate the Jobs principle of 'making people's lives better' but, more ridiculous is the fact that the last time most people ever see the back of their phone is the day take it out of the box and immediately encase in a thick, ugly case. A case that makes a mockery of all of Apple's efforts to produce a thin phone with a beautiful back.

    If Apple wants to do something to make people's lives better, let them design a phone that doesn't need a case!
  • Reply 13 of 54
    boeyc15boeyc15 Posts: 970member
    sflocal said:
    If Apple comes out with a modern version of the iPhone4 chassis, I'll be the first one in line to get one.  It's still by far (imho) the most elegant, gorgeous phone ever made.  Just as Steve Jobs said, "Like an old Leica".  
    Totally agree. Only complaint perhaps is it was a bit heavy. And.. I'm one of those Neanderthal Luddites that wants the head phone jack put back in... and swipe to open!
    edited January 10
  • Reply 14 of 54
    sog35sog35 Posts: 12,215member
    All this attention on the appearance and thinness of the phone is a bit ridiculous...

    Not only does it violate the Jobs principle of 'making people's lives better' but, more ridiculous is the fact that the last time most people ever see the back of their phone is the day take it out of the box and immediately encase in a thick, ugly case. A case that makes a mockery of all of Apple's efforts to produce a thin phone with a beautiful back.

    If Apple wants to do something to make people's lives better, let them design a phone that doesn't need a case!
    many don't use cases dude
    patchythepirateStrangeDaysshikotsumyaku
  • Reply 15 of 54
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,159member
    kiowavt said:
    True or not,

    Oh Apple, please stop with the thinness.  Yes, it's the bragging point of the universe, but we are there at the great paradise of thinness in laptop and phone and pad. Headphone jack removal meant I cannot buy any new iPhones (I am on my phone all day for work) so the thinning of the phone lost one sale, and likely I have to hold onto my 6s forever.  At this wonderful current thinness (before 7 and Touchbar) most folks add cases anyway.  Make the phone much thinner and I will cut myself on it.  :-)  Battery life and function are at this stage far far far far more important to me and most others than the bragging rights of the thinnest out there.  Yes yes, Steve Jobs pulled the Air out of a paper envelope and that was impressive.  Even he would have known not to carry this on forever.  Now the latest laptop is missing so much many might buy something from OWC that adds back thickness and function.  Trouble is they also had to first pay the super high premium price for the thinning of the laptop.  Oh, and a case with a headphone jack.  Yep, the same there too.  There comes a point where you have arrived, but even Apple failed to notice that.  Add AR.  Increase battery life to the moon. But stop before you go anorexic.  Please.  That also takes courage.  

    (The trick would have been to addict everyone to the AirPods and then, after a few Generations of AirPod improvement, THEN ditch the headphone jack).  
    You do realize you are speaking for yourself. Why wait "generations" of air pods before removing the headphone jack? They provided the adaptor. Amazing how they keep passing you up for senior management positions.
    tmaypatchythepirateRayz2016StrangeDaysbrucemcshikotsumyakuwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 54
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 2,635member
    So basically recycling the iPhone 4 design? Call me skeptical.
    Is there a particular reason why you're always so negative toward every story? 
    Rayz2016StrangeDaysshikotsumyakuwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 54
    kiowavt said:
    True or not,

    Oh Apple, please stop with the thinness.  Yes, it's the bragging point of the universe, but we are there at the great paradise of thinness in laptop and phone and pad. Headphone jack removal meant I cannot buy any new iPhones (I am on my phone all day for work) so the thinning of the phone lost one sale, and likely I have to hold onto my 6s forever.  At this wonderful current thinness (before 7 and Touchbar) most folks add cases anyway.  Make the phone much thinner and I will cut myself on it.  :-)  Battery life and function are at this stage far far far far more important to me and most others than the bragging rights of the thinnest out there.  Yes yes, Steve Jobs pulled the Air out of a paper envelope and that was impressive.  Even he would have known not to carry this on forever.  Now the latest laptop is missing so much many might buy something from OWC that adds back thickness and function.  Trouble is they also had to first pay the super high premium price for the thinning of the laptop.  Oh, and a case with a headphone jack.  Yep, the same there too.  There comes a point where you have arrived, but even Apple failed to notice that.  Add AR.  Increase battery life to the moon. But stop before you go anorexic.  Please.  That also takes courage.  

    (The trick would have been to addict everyone to the AirPods and then, after a few Generations of AirPod improvement, THEN ditch the headphone jack).  
    FYI the iPhone 7 had the same thickness as the 6s, and the 6s was actually *thicker* than the 6. I'm not sure why people still complain about Apple's supposed obsession with thinness when it comes to the iPhone. It's been years since they made the iPhone thinner. It makes no sense that the article says "As always, Apple is expected to thin down iPhone's general profile in 2017."
    radarthekatwatto_cobrastompy
  • Reply 18 of 54
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 2,635member

    sflocal said:
    If Apple comes out with a modern version of the iPhone4 chassis, I'll be the first one in line to get one.  It's still by far (imho) the most elegant, gorgeous phone ever made.  Just as Steve Jobs said, "Like an old Leica".  
    I wouldn't mind that...just don't put that god damn chamfered edge on it! I cannot stand Jony Ive and his stupid chamfered edge thing. I think its so ugly looking. Its only nice for a couple of weeks and then it becomes all scratched up and looks like shit. 
  • Reply 19 of 54
    sog35sog35 Posts: 12,215member
    kiowavt said:
    True or not,

    Oh Apple, please stop with the thinness.  Yes, it's the bragging point of the universe, but we are there at the great paradise of thinness in laptop and phone and pad. Headphone jack removal meant I cannot buy any new iPhones (I am on my phone all day for work) so the thinning of the phone lost one sale, and likely I have to hold onto my 6s forever.  At this wonderful current thinness (before 7 and Touchbar) most folks add cases anyway.  Make the phone much thinner and I will cut myself on it.  :-)  Battery life and function are at this stage far far far far more important to me and most others than the bragging rights of the thinnest out there.  Yes yes, Steve Jobs pulled the Air out of a paper envelope and that was impressive.  Even he would have known not to carry this on forever.  Now the latest laptop is missing so much many might buy something from OWC that adds back thickness and function.  Trouble is they also had to first pay the super high premium price for the thinning of the laptop.  Oh, and a case with a headphone jack.  Yep, the same there too.  There comes a point where you have arrived, but even Apple failed to notice that.  Add AR.  Increase battery life to the moon. But stop before you go anorexic.  Please.  That also takes courage.  

    (The trick would have been to addict everyone to the AirPods and then, after a few Generations of AirPod improvement, THEN ditch the headphone jack).  
    There's a thing called a battery case for people like you who needed extended battery life.

    For the rest of us, we enjoy the beautiful slim design. Why should the rest of us suffer with a thick ass phone, when its only the 1% like you that need extreme battery usage?
    SpamSandwichMikeymikelinkmanStrangeDaysshikotsumyakuwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 54
    SoliSoli Posts: 2,590member
    kiowavt said:
    True or not,

    Oh Apple, please stop with the thinness.  Yes, it's the bragging point of the universe, but we are there at the great paradise of thinness in laptop and phone and pad. Headphone jack removal meant I cannot buy any new iPhones (I am on my phone all day for work) so the thinning of the phone lost one sale, and likely I have to hold onto my 6s forever.  At this wonderful current thinness (before 7 and Touchbar) most folks add cases anyway.  Make the phone much thinner and I will cut myself on it.  :-)  Battery life and function are at this stage far far far far more important to me and most others than the bragging rights of the thinnest out there.  Yes yes, Steve Jobs pulled the Air out of a paper envelope and that was impressive.  Even he would have known not to carry this on forever.  Now the latest laptop is missing so much many might buy something from OWC that adds back thickness and function.  Trouble is they also had to first pay the super high premium price for the thinning of the laptop.  Oh, and a case with a headphone jack.  Yep, the same there too.  There comes a point where you have arrived, but even Apple failed to notice that.  Add AR.  Increase battery life to the moon. But stop before you go anorexic.  Please.  That also takes courage.  

    (The trick would have been to addict everyone to the AirPods and then, after a few Generations of AirPod improvement, THEN ditch the headphone jack).  
    1) While Apple could've made the iPhone 7 series thicker to allow for the headphone and all the other new components, the point of the removing the headphone jack wasn't about making the device thinner. And you speak as if there was no option for playing back music via headphones with the iPhone 7. Not only did they include Lightning headphones there have been hundreds of products on the market for years that did just that. Frankly, I wish they had done it years ago.

    2) You'll forego better performance, new HW features, and eventually a new version of iOS with all its improved security and features because the iPhone 6S went from 0.28" thick to 0.28" thick. Isn't that the same thickness as before? Also keep in mind that the iPhone 6S was a little thicker than the iPhone 6. Additionally, Apple Watch Series 2 is thicker than the original. So what's this about Apple only caring obsessed with thinness without any consideration for utility or marketability before of some "bragging point of the universe"? But, hey, if you want to make false statements that make you look stupid, go right ahead.
    radarthekatStrangeDaysbrucemcshikotsumyakuwatto_cobra
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