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Rumor: Apple's next iPhone to have glass replaced with Liquidmetal

post #1 of 106
Thread Starter 
A new, questionable rumor from Korea claims that Apple's next-generation iPhone will replace its glass back with the super-durable Liquidmetal alloy.

The claim was published on Wednesday by Korea IT News, which said Apple's sixth-generation iPhone will be made of zirconium, titanium, nickel, copper "and so forth." It also said it will have a "surface smooth like liquid."

Though the report includes references to a general "liquid metal," the proper noun Liquidmetal refers to an amorphous metal that Apple purchased the exclusive rights to use in 2010. The company behind the material, Liquidmetal Technologies, revealed in March that it was paid $20 million by Apple in that deal.

Casting some doubt on Wednesday's report out of Korea, it goes on to say that the new iPhone is expected to debut at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco in June. Last year, Apple opted to hold off on unveiling the iPhone 4S until well after WWDC, and launched its fifth-generation handset in October.

This year, most rumors have suggested that Apple plans to hold to a similar timeframe for the launch of a sixth-generation iPhone. It has been rumored that Apple will unveil its next handset in the months of September or October.

While the WWDC launch reported by Korea IT News is questionable, claims of a metal back for the next iPhone are not new. As far back as last year, there were indications that Apple was working on an all-new iPhone design with a metal back akin to the iPad.



As for the potential use of Liquidmetal, the company that owns the material announced in March that it had begun shipping commercial parts to "several" unnamed customers. Apple's Liquidmetal gives it the right to exclusively use the material in electronic products, though it is free to be used in other industries like defense contractors, sports equipment manufacturers and medical suppliers.

The first product Apple created out of Liquidmetal's material was an iPhone SIM card ejector tool, but since then there has been no indication that any other products have been crafted from the Liquidmetal alloy.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 106


Transparent aluminum, huh?

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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Originally posted by Relic

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post #3 of 106
Mods?
post #4 of 106
This is pretty expensive stuff. I suppose it could be used for the back, but without seeing evidence otherwise, I wonder if this is transparent to the radio frequencies needed. If not, then the phone would need a plastic window as the first phone model had, and as the 3G/LTE model iPads do.
post #5 of 106
Reardon Steel finally finds a market. They just don't lay that many miles of railroad tracks these days...
post #6 of 106
How will this material improve our mobile devices? Why do we want our metals to retain more energy? What design implications does this have?

(My apologies if all these things are explained in the video, but I am unable to watch it with sound.)
post #7 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by brutus009 View Post

How will this material improve our mobile devices? Why do we want our metals to retain more energy? What design implications does this have?

(My apologies if all these things are explained in the video, but I am unable to watch it with sound.)

For the use as a casing I think high-wear resistance is the biggest benefit.

It also have excellent strength to weight ratio which could mean a much thinner backplate than they are current using, assuming they stick with a similar sandwich design. Personally, I think LiquidMetal could allow them the same "sandwich" effect but allowing for a curved back unless with current Gorilla Glass technology.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #8 of 106
Those were some pricey paperclips.

Quote:
The first product Apple created out of Liquidmetal's material was an iPhone SIM card ejector tool, but since then there has been no indication that any other products have been crafted from the Liquidmetal alloy.
post #9 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


Transparent aluminum, huh?

"Apple's next-generation iPhone will replace its glass back with the super-durable Liquidmetal alloy."

Amazing what happens when one actually reads the article before posting.
"Why iPhone"... Hmmm?
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"Why iPhone"... Hmmm?
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post #10 of 106
I hope this one is true.
post #11 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by brutus009 View Post

How will this material improve our mobile devices? Why do we want our metals to retain more energy? What design implications does this have?

(My apologies if all these things are explained in the video, but I am unable to watch it with sound.)

This is highly desirable characteristic in any product or form which could be dropped or exposed to harsh conditions. If you drop a device with a rigid metal case (which doesn't effectively store that energy), then the case will have a tendency to break. Glass is a perfect example of this characteristic: glass is brittle and is a poor conductor of energy. Therefore, when subject to a drop, glass will have a tendency to shatter (releasing the energy) -- instead of absorbing the impact elastically, then releasing the energy in the form of heat while attempting to "spring back" to its former shape).

If phone cases are made out of this stuff, it will make for an exceptionally durable phone. Phone cases will also have less tendency to become marred from a drop, as the metal will be highly absorbent of the energy in the impact zone and won't dent as easily. If the phone's glass display is somehow protected by this material (for instance, glass recessed with a Liquidmetal lip protecting it), then the metal will have the tendency to not only protect the glass from impact (obvious), but the metal will also have a tendency to absorb the impact energy and release the energy in a way that doesn't cause either the glass or the metal body to crack, and that energy will be released in the form of motion (springiness) and heat.

Good stuff, and a MASSIVE differentiator in the phone/device market.
post #12 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post

"Apple's next-generation iPhone will replace its glass back with the super-durable Liquidmetal alloy."

Amazing what happens when one actually reads the article before posting.

So what's your point? You're reading the wrong implication.

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #13 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

For the use as a casing I think high-wear resistance is the biggest benefit.

It also have excellent strength to weight ratio which could mean a much thinner backplate than they are current using, assuming they stick with a similar sandwich design. Personally, I think LiquidMetal could allow them the same "sandwich" effect but allowing for a curved back unless with current Gorilla Glass technology.

I've mentioned once before that if LiquidMetal is used in the next iPhone I personally believe it's going to be for sealing the phone against moisture, essentially water-proofing it, rather than for the casing or back itself.
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post #14 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

So what's your point? You're reading the wrong implication.

What would the right implication be?

post #15 of 106
The same report claims Samsung is going to use ceramic in the Galaxy S3. Samsung is expected to announce the phone next month, so we'll get an early indication if DigiTimes has a decent source for once.
post #16 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by SixPenceRicher View Post

This is highly desirable characteristic in any product or form which could be dropped or exposed to harsh conditions. If you drop a device with a rigid metal case (which doesn't effectively store that energy), then the case will have a tendency to break. Glass is a perfect example of this characteristic: glass is brittle and is a poor conductor of energy. Therefore, when subject to a drop, glass will have a tendency to shatter (releasing the energy) -- instead of absorbing the impact elastically, then releasing the energy in the form of heat while attempting to "spring back" to its former shape).

If phone cases are made out of this stuff, it will make for an exceptionally durable phone. Phone cases will also have less tendency to become marred from a drop, as the metal will be highly absorbent of the energy in the impact zone and won't dent as easily. If the phone's glass display is somehow protected by this material (for instance, glass recessed with a Liquidmetal lip protecting it), then the metal will have the tendency to not only protect the glass from impact (obvious), but the metal will also have a tendency to absorb the impact energy and release the energy in a way that doesn't cause either the glass or the metal body to crack, and that energy will be released in the form of motion (springiness) and heat.

Good stuff, and a MASSIVE differentiator in the phone/device market.

Wow, excellent response. Thank you very much for your input.

I'm curious to see how Apple implements this, and whether they can design a sufficient "lip" around the glass as you described without detracting from design aesthetics or usability.
post #17 of 106
and a copy of Star Trek 4, neither of which you apparently have


Quote:
Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post

"Apple's next-generation iPhone will replace its glass back with the super-durable Liquidmetal alloy."

Amazing what happens when one actually reads the article before posting.
post #18 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

I've mentioned once before that if LiquidMetal is used in the next iPhone I personally believe it's going to be for sealing the phone against moisture, essentially water-proofing it, rather than for the casing or back itself.

How would that work since there will still be holes for the 2 mics, speaker headphone jack, Home button and Volumn and Mute buttons that will affect any seal, not to mention the screws that I assume will be still be used to hold the casing components together?

I think waterproofing would be great but what about the spray coating that was demoed at CES this year?

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #19 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by tkulla View Post

Reardon Steel finally finds a market. They just don't lay that many miles of railroad tracks these days...

A blue-green, shimmering phone? It'd be great if, in order to activate it, you had to proclaim to Siri, "I swear, by my life and my love of it..."
post #20 of 106
As for the timing...

Could it be that Apple will finally switch iOS to a 3D interface?

Perhaps with 3D cameras?
And an interface that can be hires in 2D or half that resolution in 3D in any of the 4 orientations?
With all the 3D patents and job hires Apple amassed, the 3D interface must happen at some point...

Apple might intoduce the 3D iOS to developers at WWDC to give devs a headstart.
Yet devices will not ship until Sep/Oct.
Perhaps iPhones and iPads together.

Effectively both rumors would be right. Introduction at WWDC yet mass production only later.
post #21 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post

What would the right implication be?


the implication in the title - where there is no mention of "the back" just replacing the glass...
PLEASE the witty remark made in the first place wasn't that great - but these comments have forever squashed any hope of funny comments in the future
post #22 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmarcoot View Post

and a copy of Star Trek 4, neither of which you apparently have

OH computer (talks into the mouse).
post #23 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

This is pretty expensive stuff.

Once again, there are different Liquidmetal alloys. Some are terribly expensive ($1500 per pound) and others are not. They make reasonably priced tennis rackets and golf clubs out of the stuff, so at least some of the alloys are probably priced at a reasonable level for the back of a cell phone.


Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I suppose it could be used for the back, but without seeing evidence otherwise, I wonder if this is transparent to the radio frequencies needed. If not, then the phone would need a plastic window as the first phone model had, and as the 3G/LTE model iPads do.

Or make it look like the current iPhone 4S and make the back out of liquidmetal and leave the antennas untouched. Or make the liquidmetal back the antenna.
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Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #24 of 106
As long as the iPhone doesn't suddenly morph into Robert Patrick wearing a cop uniform, I'll be happy with whatever Apple uses the LiquidMetal for.
post #25 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by brutus009 View Post

How will this material improve our mobile devices? Why do we want our metals to retain more energy? What design implications does this have?

(My apologies if all these things are explained in the video, but I am unable to watch it with sound.)

Here's the soundtrack in Closed Caption form for you:

Plink-------Plink-----Plink
Plink---Plink---Plink--Plink
Plink-Plink-Plink-Plink-Plink

You did not miss much.

Oh and I believe this means that when you drop your phone onto a glass surface it will have a 50% chance of bouncing back up so you can catch it.

(I get all my best material from andyapple)
post #26 of 106
I'm looking forward to a an iPhone that, when dropped, bounces back into my hand.


D'oh! softeky just beat me to it.
Hey, this Kool-Aid is delicious, what do you put in it?!
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post #27 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

How would that work since there will still be holes for the 2 mics, speaker headphone jack, Home button and Volumn and Mute buttons that will affect any seal, not to mention the screws that I assume will be still be used to hold the casing components together?

I think waterproofing would be great but what about the spray coating that was demoed at CES this year?

Apple (or technically Crucible, the Apple/Liquidmetal partnership) filed for a patent back in January last year on using the technology for sealing a device like the iPhone against any liquid intrusion.
http://www.patentstorm.us/applicatio...scription.html

From the patent summary:
Provided herein include methods of forming an interfacial layer or seal having amorphous alloys or composites within the supercooled liquid region or around the glass transition temperature of the amorphous alloys. Also provided herein include articles that comprise an interfacial layer made of, or having, the amorphous alloys or composites, the interfacial layer being used as an bonding element to bond at least two parts. Another embodiment provides a seal made of, or having, the amorphous alloys or composites, the seal being used to create an effectively air-tight and/or water-proof seal over a part. The seal can be over the surface of the part on the exterior surface and/or interior surface, particularly when the surface has a recessed surface, such as a cavity or undercut.
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post #28 of 106
So does this mean that if I drop the phone, it will bounce right back to me?
post #29 of 106
The "source may have a basic misunderstanding.

I dont think the point of LiquidMetal is to have a surface like liquid. I could throw a rock and hit polished metal thats as smooth as liquid whatever that means. For starters, the metal logo on my old iPhone 3G. Anything chrome. Most stainless steel. Aluminum if not bead-blasted or brushed. Brass.

Rather, its about the metal being a heat-formable liquid (more like plastic than traditional molten metal) for molding during manufacturing.

Id be interested to know if LiquidMetal has any unique radio-transparency properties. Probably not.
post #30 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

I’d be interested to know if LiquidMetal has any unique radio-transparency properties. Probably not.

It does, as has been often stated. The frequencies to which it's transparent depend on the composition of each type of liquidmetal.

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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Originally posted by Relic

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post #31 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

This is pretty expensive stuff. I suppose it could be used for the back, but without seeing evidence otherwise, I wonder if this is transparent to the radio frequencies needed. If not, then the phone would need a plastic window as the first phone model had, and as the 3G/LTE model iPads do.

It doesn't make a lot of sense to me either. Liquidmetal would *not* be radio transparent and as you say is prohibitively expensive.

I could see them doing it if they keep the external antenna as well and to give the new iPhone a back that is reminiscent of the old iPods but won't get scratched like they do. It seems like an awful lot of trouble and expense for just a "look" and a slightly lower incidence of back repairs.
post #32 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by KPOM View Post

The same report claims Samsung is going to use ceramic in the Galaxy S3. Samsung is expected to announce the phone next month, so we'll get an early indication if DigiTimes has a decent source for once.

It better not be that Zirconia ceramic that Apple has a world-wide exclusive licence for or there will certainly be more legal troubles.
post #33 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sol77 View Post

A blue-green, shimmering phone? It'd be great if, in order to activate it, you had to proclaim to Siri, "I swear, by my life and my love of it..."

Nah... The pass phrase would be 'Screw you. I've got mine.'
post #34 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

It does, as has been often stated. The frequencies to which it's transparent depend on the composition of each type of liquidmetal.

Please name the type of metal used that becomes "radio-transparent" when it has been doped with small amounts of some other metal.

Liquidmetal is a type metal alloy with interesting physical properties engendered by the way it's alloyed, the materials it's "doped" with and how it's cooled. It's no more radio-transparent than any other metal.
post #35 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

It's no more radio-transparent than any other metal.

The zirconium-based ones would.

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #36 of 106
Video is impressive...not sure how it pertains to the iPhone but I think anything would be better than the current "glass" back of the 4s. It's just not comfortable or easy to hold.
post #37 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

It better not be that Zirconia ceramic that Apple has a world-wide exclusive licence for or there will certainly be more legal troubles.

Please don't confuse zirconia with a metal alloy which contains zirconium. There's no relationship.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

It doesn't make a lot of sense to me either. Liquidmetal would *not* be radio transparent and as you say is prohibitively expensive.

You keep saying this, but you've never provided any evidence. Furthermore, you apparently keep ignoring the fact that 'liquidmetal' is actually a series of alloys. Some contain a lot of platinum and are expensive and others are cheap enough to use in reasonably-priced tennis rackets and golf clubs.

Furthermore, there's no information yet from LQMT on whether any of their alloys are radio transparent. I suspect that none of them are, but please stop stating speculation as fact.
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Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #38 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

So what's your point? You're reading the wrong implication.

This may be nitpicking. But is it possible to read the wrong implication?
post #39 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

This may be nitpicking. But is it possible to read the wrong implication?

Good question. Does implication refer to the author's implied conclusion, the reader's, or both? Can we differentiate between a conclusion that can be drawn versus one that is drawn?

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #40 of 106
The NEW iPhone... Now made with Liquid Metal! 'It melts near your mouth, not in your hands!' Or is it 'It melts in your hands, not near your mouth!'
/
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