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Photos claim to show Apple's lighter, cheaper iPhone 4 prototype

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
New photos claim to show a prototype iPhone 4 that has received slight modifications to make it cheaper, lighter and faster, suggesting it could replace the iPhone 3GS to become Apple's new entry-level handset when a fifth-generation iPhone launches.

A trio of pictures showing a device that looks very similar to the current iPhone 4 appeared this week on the Vietnamese website Tinhte. The poster who shared the leak, "cuhiep," said the pictures come from a "very reliable source."

The site has been the source of numerous Apple-related leaks in the past, including this April, when it showed off a prototype iPhone running a "test" build of iOS. That unreleased software featured an Exposé-style multitasking interface that was originally planned for inclusion in iOS 4 but was ultimately scrapped.

The same site also got its hands on an iPod touch prototype with a rear-facing camera in May of 2010, months before Apple added two cameras to the iPod touch. And that same month it showed off an updated MacBook, complete with final product packaging, that hadn't yet been announced.

The latest photos, highlighted to AppleInsider by Erich Strasser of OLED-display.net, show off a handset that looks very similar to the currently available white iPhone 4. An indication that the device is a prototype comes from the fact that the model number and various identification numbers on the rear of the device are X'ed out.

The original poster of the photos admitted (via Google Translate) that it may be "really hard to convince" people about the authenticity of the photos, because the device looks "exactly" like the white iPhone 4.



In addition to running at a speed that "seems" faster than the current iPhone 4, the handset is said to have had its front and back glass panels "replaced by two plastic sheets." He said the information comes from a "thorough and very reliable source."

In one picture, the device is shown to be "jailbroken," updating sources from the underground Cydia application store.



The report suggests that the pictured handset is a so-called "iPhone 4S," or an entry-level model that will be introduced alongside the new fifth-generation iPhone this year.

When the iPhone 4 debuted last year, Apple introduced a slightly modified iPhone 3GS with a reduced storage capacity of 8GB. Prior to the launch of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS was only available in capacities of 16GB and 32GB.



The iPhone 3GS is still sold as Apple's entry-level handset, available for just $49 with a two-year mobile service contract in the U.S. The iPhone 3GS has proven so popular, it often outsells new Android devices, and has even helped AT&T add more iPhone activations than rival Verizon.
post #2 of 44
Seems likely enough. I'm highly intrigued by what the iPhone 5 will bring to the table. With a low-end model a bit faster than the iPhone 4, I'm questioning whether Apple would really change materials and internal parts to make a lesser-quality product just to hit a price point. And if so, what new things will the iPhone 5 bring, if any?

Btw, am I the only one clueless as to what benefits a gesture-based home button would bring? I guess the only logical advantage I can see would be enabling task switching through swiping across it, but this seems too niche to compromise a physical button for.
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post #3 of 44
Who knows; it may well be some kind of prototype. But I’m skeptical of the plastic screen (maybe for a prototype, terrible for a final) and of the idea that it “seems faster” than an iPhone 4. Other than certain specific games, I’m not sure how likely a person would be to notice a speed difference—since the 4 is already fast! Maybe if they spent a lot of time with it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiles77 View Post

Btw, am I the only one clueless as to what benefits a gesture-based home button would bring? I guess the only logical advantage I can see would be enabling task switching through swiping across it, but this seems too niche to compromise a physical button for.

I don’t know if Apple will do it, but if so, here’s why it could be good:

* You could switch apps really easily as you say—and not need multi-finger gestures (which can conflict with certain games and music apps, and would be awkward on a phone-sized screen). Switching apps isn’t niche, and right now it requires a double-click plus a tap, and lots of visual noise, compared to the swipe-simplicity we’ve seen (on iPad) with iOS 5’s new gestures. Which may seem like a small feature, but they really make multitasking more inviting.

* Yet the button could still be clickable as usual, with the double-click recent-apps-list still available, so old habits need not change.
post #4 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In addition to running at a speed that "seems" faster than the current iPhone 4, the handset is said to have had its front and back glass panels "replaced by two plastic sheets." He said the information comes from a "thorough and very reliable source."

Apple isn't going to use plastic for touch screens, never.
Although ... the magic mouse seems to have a plastic touch 'screen'.

J.
post #5 of 44
Seems reasonable to me too. The glass back is gorgeous no doubt, but if the phone is capable and looks just as nice as the classic iPhone 4, why re-engineer the whole thing?
I would imagine this is legit. Makes too much sense not be.
post #6 of 44
If they release that shitty looking thing and that's what finally comes to TMobile instead of the iPhone5, I'm gonna be pissed.
post #7 of 44
With a budget phone they have to ensure top of the range sales do not suffer.

Its has to be a fine balance in the design decisions.
post #8 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by TitanTiger View Post

If they release that shitty looking thing and that's what finally comes to TMobile instead of the iPhone5, I'm gonna be pissed.

There's no way just the lower-end model would make it to T-Mobile without the higher-end option. It's not even conceptually probable.
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post #9 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnjnjn View Post

Apple isn't going to use plastic for touch screens, never.
Although ... the magic mouse seems to have a plastic touch 'screen'.

J.

Perhaps... perhaps not. If the next entry level model is based on the iPhone 4 design, it's becoming harder and harder to differentiate entry-level from top of the line. A plastic screen is one way to do it. I've used phones with plastic screens, and they do feel cheaper, but they get the job done.

Besides, I don't doubt Apple's plastic screen would no doubt be "magical" in some way... Bulletproof, scratchproof, etc. Considering many of the entry level models end up in the hands of the younger set, a plastic screen makes some sense. As log as the touch screen operates up to Apple's standards, and the problem of scratching or hazing is addressed, why not plastic for the screen, especially for the "starter" iPhone?

If the average entry-level consumer can get them some iPhone 4 for under $50, I don't think they're going to care.
post #10 of 44
I don't see it happening. Unless they could maintain incredible margins, there's no reason to take manufacturing away from their premium product that they sell every unit they make.
post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by GotWake View Post

I don't see it happening. Unless they could maintain incredible margins, there's no reason to take manufacturing away from their premium product that they sell every unit they make.

I agree.
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post #12 of 44
This seems cool and all, but how much of decrease in price will this thing ultimately have? Because no doubt the iPhone 4 will become cheaper once the 5 is launched, so in essence you'd actually have two "cheaper" iPhone 4's, the current model and the new plastic model. The iPhone 4 is pretty fast right now, so is a "seemingly" faster iPhone 4s really going to be all that great? I know having last years model as the cheaper version of the iPhone (as opposed to having a lower end yet newer model) isn't exactly the same thing, but it seems to have worked out so far. I don't know I guess what I'm wondering is how much better will a cheaper plasticy (newer) iPhone be when compared to a year old model that is still a very nice phone and cheaper because of age? I guess time will tell.
post #13 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by _BeAsTMaSteR_ View Post

This seems cool and all, but how much of decrease in price will this thing ultimately have? ...I guess what I'm wondering is how much better will a cheaper plasticy (newer) iPhone be when compared to a year old model that is still a very nice phone and cheaper because of age?

Exactly.
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post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiles77 View Post

Btw, am I the only one clueless as to what benefits a gesture-based home button would bring? I guess the only logical advantage I can see would be enabling task switching through swiping across it, but this seems too niche to compromise a physical button for.

Maybe not the only one, but I think quite a few people can imagine such a touch field being used to move the cursor around in a text field, like say, a text message or E-Mail (or Pages document). Much handier than moving your thumb over the text you want to look at and having the passage zoomed in above the actual text...
post #15 of 44
is the S for Sprint? I hope so
post #16 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by _BeAsTMaSteR_ View Post

This seems cool and all, but how much of decrease in price will this thing ultimately have? Because no doubt the iPhone 4 will become cheaper once the 5 is launched, so in essence you'd actually have two "cheaper" iPhone 4's, the current model and the new plastic model.

The iPhone 4 is currently quite cheap to manufacture right. iPod touches too. They are carrying >41% gross margin on the product. So, they can put in a downclocked A5, use the iPod touch display, 16 GB storage, etc, and hit a $350 price point, no contract, with 35% margin quite easily I think.

Replacing the glass front and back is also a nice change for a so-called iPhone "lite". This would be the iPod touch w/3G and a cheap pre-paid iPhone. A lot of kids will be using it and it needs to be durable.

Quote:
The iPhone 4 is pretty fast right now, so is a "seemingly" faster iPhone 4s really going to be all that great? I know having last years model as the cheaper version of the iPhone (as opposed to having a lower end yet newer model) isn't exactly the same thing, but it seems to have worked out so far. I don't know I guess what I'm wondering is how much better will a cheaper plasticy (newer) iPhone be when compared to a year old model that is still a very nice phone and cheaper because of age? I guess time will tell.

The difference between the two isn't all that great here. If this is the new low end version (3GS:4::4S:5), it's just the same old strategy of using last years phone as the budget model. If that is all Apple is doing, it'll be business as usual.

A big change would be if this model was a no-contract model for $350 or less. That's iPod touch w/3G category and selling into prepaid market territory, which is something like 70% of the cell phone market out there.
post #17 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by thomas.buckler View Post

is the S for Sprint? I hope so

I'm with you. I've been due for a new phone with Sprint for a while, and I SO don't want to have to be stuck with some stupid Android POS.

As far as the plastic screen phone goes: Apple would be stupid to do this. It'd be like taking the good name of the iPhone and dragging it through the mud by cheapening it.
post #18 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

New photos claim to show a prototype iPhone 4 that has received slight modifications to make it cheaper, lighter and faster, suggesting it could replace the iPhone 3GS to become Apple's new entry-level handset when a fifth-generation iPhone launches. ...

it's fairly obviously a jailbroken iPhone 4 with the cheap plastic white iPhone conversion kit applied to it. The plastic covers seem identical to one of those kits they were selling all last year. Is there any evidence it's anything else? I don't see it.
post #19 of 44
Nah, this is bogus.

Some posters at MacRumors believe it's an early conversion kit or matte screen protectors.

Apple would save a negligible amount using plastic, i.e., switching 50 cents of glass for twenty cents of plastic.

The priciest components in the handset are the capacitive touchscreen, the LCD display, and the main silicon (SoC and NAND flash storage). Those are the items that would need to be modified to reach a lower price point, not the cosmetics.
post #20 of 44
Conversion kit.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #21 of 44
Honestly just looks like a matte screen protector on it. If you look where the notices are on the metal casing you can see the screen protector filling the gaps
post #22 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by aBeliefSystem View Post

With a budget phone they have to ensure top of the range sales do not suffer.

Its has to be a fine balance in the design decisions.

Agree. I worry that Apple's old reliable business model of differentiating itself by offering the premium product is being compromised in a way that will bring negative unintended consequences. Would rather see Apple create a different brand for "burners."
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post #23 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by _BeAsTMaSteR_ View Post

This seems cool and all, but how much of decrease in price will this thing ultimately have? Because no doubt the iPhone 4 will become cheaper once the 5 is launched, so in essence you'd actually have two "cheaper" iPhone 4's, the current model and the new plastic model.

Actually Apple would do it this way:

8 or 16 GB plastic iPhone 4 = entry level
16 or 32 or 64 GB glass front and back iPhone 4s/5 (same design with updated internal hardware) = 2011 premium models

I am fully expecting the next gen iPhone to look the exact same as the current iPhone 4. It is a big seller, no need to change the design.
post #24 of 44
Apple engineers gotta stop 1) taking their work home with them and 2) stopping at the local pub on the way.
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post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiles77 View Post

Btw, am I the only one clueless as to what benefits a gesture-based home button would bring? I guess the only logical advantage I can see would be enabling task switching through swiping across it, but this seems too niche to compromise a physical button for.

The gesture home "button" on the Palm Pre/Pixi was probably one of the best parts of the phone. You could easily do so much and see so much by just using your thumb. Sucked that their hardware was so much of a complete failure. I still don't know why they insist on having a VERTICAL keyboard slider with tiny keys that are hard to press.

That said, with all the patent slinging, I wonder if Apple really can do gestures through the home button.
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post #26 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Futuristic View Post

Apple engineers gotta stop 1) taking their work home with them and 2) stopping at the local pub on the way.

They have. This isn't one.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

They have. This isn't one.

I forgot the <joke> tag on my comment. Sorry. Heh.
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post #28 of 44
Wow, those are some of the most conclusive photos AI has ever published. They are ipso facto photos of the new cheaper iPhone; the photos provide conclusive proof. There is no way that those photos are simply photos of current iPhone 4's with little marks that align with the antenna slits.

Good find, guys.
post #29 of 44
I was thinking the iPhone 4 rectangle shape should be very easy to manufacture, with yield rate to have improved over the year. Apple would properly have some thoughts on cost saving as well. However i wonder if these savings and go without Glass plate is really enough for a $350 devices. After all we are talking about $250 cost savings from current iPhone 4.
post #30 of 44
I can tell you straight away this wont work. If both of them look the same then Most people will buy the plastic 16GB model.

If this is indeed a cheaper model. Then it is VERY likely iPhone 5 will be a new design. Old production facility can continue to make the cheaper iPhone 4, with its yield rate worked through out the year and expansion in capacity. It should be able keep up with demand on the lower end market.

New production line would properly be an upgrade from the previous iPhone 3G line, which actually has less capacity then the iPhone 4 production line, this should work well for the Higher Priced models.
post #31 of 44
Why would they make the cheap version white? White iPhone is a status symbol of sorts, so I doubt they would be giving these away for 49 bucks any time soon.
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post #32 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by PastorOfMuppets View Post

Besides, I don't doubt Apple's plastic screen would no doubt be "magical" in some way... Bulletproof, scratchproof, etc. Considering many of the entry level models end up in the hands of the younger set, a plastic screen makes some sense. As log as the touch screen operates up to Apple's standards, and the problem of scratching or hazing is addressed, why not plastic for the screen, especially for the "starter" iPhone?

If the average entry-level consumer can get them some iPhone 4 for under $50, I don't think they're going to care.

I think you are forgetting a huge factor here: Steve Jobs. He will not sell something cheesy or cheap feeling for the best margin in the world. This is a brand that is his baby. Not to many companies in the world with Apples size and value that was started with his buddy and another guy in his Mom's garage that have there original CEO. Lets see there is Apple and then there isoh I guess it is just Apple.

Steve had the original first run (I think it was 40k units) sent back because the plastic was not the right fit. It did not have the right feel. What has changed that would make him take the classiest phone in the world and do a cheap feeling version? I don't buy plastic for the final product. We don't even know if this is a EVT unit or a DVT. It certainly isn't up to final build standards.

No way on a plastic screen.
post #33 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by TitanTiger View Post

If they release that shitty looking thing and that's what finally comes to TMobile instead of the iPhone5, I'm gonna be pissed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PastorOfMuppets View Post

Perhaps... perhaps not. If the next entry level model is based on the iPhone 4 design, it's becoming harder and harder to differentiate entry-level from top of the line. A plastic screen is one way to do it. I've used phones with plastic screens, and they do feel cheaper, but they get the job done.

Besides, I don't doubt Apple's plastic screen would no doubt be "magical" in some way... Bulletproof, scratchproof, etc. Considering many of the entry level models end up in the hands of the younger set, a plastic screen makes some sense. As log as the touch screen operates up to Apple's standards, and the problem of scratching or hazing is addressed, why not plastic for the screen, especially for the "starter" iPhone?

If the average entry-level consumer can get them some iPhone 4 for under $50, I don't think they're going to care.

Quote:
Originally Posted by _BeAsTMaSteR_ View Post

This seems cool and all, but how much of decrease in price will this thing ultimately have? Because no doubt the iPhone 4 will become cheaper once the 5 is launched, so in essence you'd actually have two "cheaper" iPhone 4's, the current model and the new plastic model. The iPhone 4 is pretty fast right now, so is a "seemingly" faster iPhone 4s really going to be all that great? I know having last years model as the cheaper version of the iPhone (as opposed to having a lower end yet newer model) isn't exactly the same thing, but it seems to have worked out so far. I don't know I guess what I'm wondering is how much better will a cheaper plasticy (newer) iPhone be when compared to a year old model that is still a very nice phone and cheaper because of age? I guess time will tell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrike View Post

The iPhone 4 is currently quite cheap to manufacture right. iPod touches too. They are carrying >41% gross margin on the product. So, they can put in a downclocked A5, use the iPod touch display, 16 GB storage, etc, and hit a $350 price point, no contract, with 35% margin quite easily I think.

Replacing the glass front and back is also a nice change for a so-called iPhone "lite". This would be the iPod touch w/3G and a cheap pre-paid iPhone. A lot of kids will be using it and it needs to be durable.



The difference between the two isn't all that great here. If this is the new low end version (3GS:4::4S:5), it's just the same old strategy of using last years phone as the budget model. If that is all Apple is doing, it'll be business as usual.

A big change would be if this model was a no-contract model for $350 or less. That's iPod touch w/3G category and selling into prepaid market territory, which is something like 70% of the cell phone market out there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ksec View Post

I was thinking the iPhone 4 rectangle shape should be very easy to manufacture, with yield rate to have improved over the year. Apple would properly have some thoughts on cost saving as well. However i wonder if these savings and go without Glass plate is really enough for a $350 devices. After all we are talking about $250 cost savings from current iPhone 4.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ksec View Post

I can tell you straight away this wont work. If both of them look the same then Most people will buy the plastic 16GB model.

If this is indeed a cheaper model. Then it is VERY likely iPhone 5 will be a new design. Old production facility can continue to make the cheaper iPhone 4, with its yield rate worked through out the year and expansion in capacity. It should be able keep up with demand on the lower end market.

New production line would properly be an upgrade from the previous iPhone 3G line, which actually has less capacity then the iPhone 4 production line, this should work well for the Higher Priced models.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

Why would they make the cheap version white? White iPhone is a status symbol of sorts, so I doubt they would be giving these away for 49 bucks any time soon.

You guys don't get that this is a PROTOTYPE.

The finished phone probably won't look anything like this. They probably only made this phone look like an iPhone 4 to throw people off. If this is a real prototype, Apple was likely testing the feasibility of a plastic touch screen and the durability of using plastic in general. The plastic screen and back have to match Apple's standards hence why they would be testing the plastic in the wild like this.

My guess is the actual phone will look like an all plastic 3GS, more or less, like the Samsung Galaxy S.
post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post

You guys don't get that this is a PROTOTYPE.

No, it's a conversion kit for existing phones.

Quote:
The finished phone probably won't look anything like this.

Because these images have nothing to do with anything that even remotely concerns a future product.

Quote:
They probably only made this phone look like an iPhone 4 to throw people off.

No, it's a conversion kit.

Quote:
If this is a real prototype,

It isn't.

Quote:
Apple was likely testing the feasibility of a plastic touch screen

They did. In January 2007. It sucked, so they went with optical quality glass before the first-gen iPhone even went into production. For a REASON.

Quote:
My guess is the actual phone will look like an all plastic 3GS, more or less, like the Samsung Galaxy S.

"If you see a plastic screen, they did it wrong."

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #35 of 44
Wow, matte finish on the display. What is that, scratch-easy plastic? LOL, reverse Apple's obsession with shiny, reflective displays

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post #36 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

"If you see a plastic screen, they did it wrong."

I agree with your assessmentApple will never go the cheap plastic route.
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post #37 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Wow, matte finish on the display. What is that, scratch-easy plastic? LOL, reverse Apple's obsession with shiny, reflective displays

Scratch-easy plastic! Quick, somebody patent it!! LOL.
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post #38 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Futuristic View Post

Scratch-easy plastic! Quick, somebody patent it!! LOL.

Maybe they want to make it look so bad Samsung won't even want to rip it off.

Although the people posting these pictures have had accurate leaks in the past, this could be a false prototype sent through to weed them out but I suspect it's just a hoax. By running jailbroken software, they can detail the processor, RAM, storage capacity etc.

Couple this with the fact Apple said they are doing a product transition in September suggests this isn't genuine.
post #39 of 44
Is it just me? but these photos look like they are just glass paneled iPhone 4 with those anti-glare protective screen films attached to.
I see borders around the home button and speaker hole.
post #40 of 44
Apple has said several times it will address the need for an iPhone on prepaid networks, Apple does a ton of business overseas, and prepaid in much more popular overseas.

Apple needs a "cheap" phone for BIC, Brazil, India, China...

Hmmm mm mm........
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