Sources detail physical design of Apple's upcoming tablet device

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
When Apple finally takes the wraps off its long-anticipated tablet next Wednesday, the device will strike a familiar chord with owners of the original iPhone, with similarities in industrial design trickling all the way down to the handset's button and connectivity components, AppleInsider has learned.



Nearly two and a half years have passed since AppleInsider exclusively reported in September of 2007 that the Cupertino-based gadget maker planned to follow the blockbuster success of the iPhone with a broader entry into consumer electronics, spearheaded by a completely new category of device akin to a "slate" and reminiscent of a modern-day reincarnation of the company's now defunct Newton tablet.



Since then, Apple has surprised in its capacity to work alongside dozens of partners and still maintain a relatively tight lid of the product's design, feature set, and software-driven functionality. Though recent weeks have been met by a flurry of reports on Apple's likely intentions for the device, a 28-month trail of rumors and speculation have left onlookers with exponentially more questions than answers.



One lingering uncertainty has surrounded the device's aesthetic or, more precisely, what it may look and feel like in a user's hands. According to people familiar with the device, it's largely redolent of a first-generation iPhone that's met its match with a rolling pin.



Of all the mockups and renderings that have surfaced on the Web attempting to depict what the final product will look like, the rendition below created by Flickr user Fotoboer.nl last August is strikingly close to the real deal, those same people say. It would be more precise, they add, if it weren't missing a handful of design elements of the iPhone.



Nestled in an aluminum shell that leverages the Apple's expertise in unibody construction but thinner proportionality than the original iPhone, the tablet reportedly sports all of the same buttons found on the handset, right down to its iconic home button -- which, like the volume toggle, is missing from the rendering.*



*



Similarly, the tablet is said to sport all the same in/out connectivity as the current iPhone 3GS, including a 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack, built-in speaker grills, a* microphone, GPS, 3G connectivity and a 30-pin dock connector. Like the rendering, its 10-inch display is framed by a black border that bleeds into its wrap-around aluminum enclosure.*



Meanwhile, other people with proven track records in predicting Apple's future product designs have recently commented on prototypes of the Apple tablet making the rounds with a baseband chip compatible with CDMA networks like those operated by U.S.-based Verzion Wireless. However, AppleInsider cannot confirm with any degree of certainty that this technology is planned for the shipping version of the product.



For a comprehensive archive of all rumors surrounding Apple's tablet device, readers can check out AppleInsider's Newton and tablet topics pages, or review its exclusive reports on the product (below) dating back to the fall of 2007. Also of potential interest may be a recent feature article: The inside track on Apple's tablet: a history of tablet computing.



Up next for Apple: the return of the Newton - September 2007

Mega Apple filing details next-gen 'multi-touch input surface' - February 2008

Apple details next-gen multi-touch techniques for tablet Macs - August 2008

Apple pushing for patent on versatile tablet docking station - November 2008

Apple orders 10-inch touchscreens for mystery product- March 2009

Apple's much-anticipated tablet device coming early next year - July 2009

Poor bets placed on Apple taking dual tablet route - August 2009

Evidence of Apple's tablet-like input interface reappears - October 2009

Apple confirms Jan. 27 media event to show off 'latest creation' - January 2010
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 257
    What have we just learned here?



    I'm getting sick of this. Nothing could live up to this level of hype. Nothing.
  • Reply 2 of 257
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ... met its match with a rolling pin.



    Ha! Love it.
  • Reply 3 of 257
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,702member
    I don't buy the design. Certainly not an alu back. The thing will spend most of its time lying on its back getting scratched up. There will be some other material on the back side. Also don't buy the OSX interface.
  • Reply 4 of 257
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jpmuk View Post


    What have we just learned here?



    I'm getting sick of this. Nothing could live up to this level of hype. Nothing.



    This is a rumor site.

    If you don't expect rumors/learnings, why do you come here?
  • Reply 5 of 257
    The design in the photo is also a rumour.
  • Reply 6 of 257
    Except of course there will be no familiar, run anything you like, OS X UI like on Mac's... it will be the iPhone OS and a App Store lock in, unless you jailbreak it and lock yourself out of the App Store and wind up stealing apps as a result. A whole sub-community of hackers and jail breakers will arise.



    The App Store will be expanded, MobileMe will be the "cloud" and it will have two models, a cell one and a iPod touch like one, my guess is.



    The reason I assume Apple has been able to keep such a good lid on this is because they are using existing iPhone and iPod touch channels, basically a hardware improvement, no new screws to loose and blab.
  • Reply 7 of 257
    vinney57vinney57 Posts: 1,162member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    I don't buy the design. Certainly not an alu back. The thing will spend most of its time lying on its back getting scratched up. There will be some other material on the back side. Also don't buy the OSX interface.



    Its just a fan rendering - nobody is suggesting that's what it actually looks like



    In fact what it looks like is pretty much the least interesting aspect of the device.
  • Reply 8 of 257
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by striker_kk View Post


    This is a rumor site.

    If you don't expect rumors/learnings, why do you come here?



    Seriously. Is it Wednesday yet?
  • Reply 9 of 257
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    The design in the photo is also a rumour.



    Rumor has it that AppleInsider is working on a story about the top bezel edge. We?ll see if this rumor pans out and we end up with a new rumor tomorrow.
  • Reply 10 of 257
    I don't understand the connectivity piece. Will iPhone users really pay to add another device to their AT&T bill or will this replace their iPhone?



    Agree with paxman on the back of the device - it's got to have small rubberplastic feet to prevent the backside from being a scratched up mess. And if it's a slick as the original iPhone was, it's going to be tough to hang onto.



    Less than a week... and we'll all know for sure.
  • Reply 11 of 257
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    I don't buy the design. Certainly not an alu back. The thing will spend most of its time lying on its back getting scratched up. There will be some other material on the back side. Also don't buy the OSX interface.



    In the past it has usually been the protective case manufacturers that have leaked the form factor of new designs. To date we have not seen any prototypes. This might indicate that the protective cases are incompatible with the possible touch interface on the back. I hope it does include this feature. I never used a protective case anyway. I can live with a few scratches for a less bulky feeling device.
  • Reply 12 of 257
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Also of potential interest may be a recent feature article: The inside track on Apple's tablet: a history of tablet computing.



    Personally, I'd like Prince to rename his first piece into something like "a history of tablet computing: on the eve of tablets" and to present us part 2 being an overview of the evolution of tablet computers and readers.
  • Reply 13 of 257
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,951member
    It's nice to see Kasper around, I thought he wasn't with the site anymore.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    I don't buy the design. Certainly not an alu back. The thing will spend most of its time lying on its back getting scratched up. There will be some other material on the back side.



    I don't know if that's a sufficient rebuttal against the idea. The aluminum shelled notebooks seem to hold up pretty well. My old style 2007 MBP still looks nice, and my sister's early 2006 doesn't look too bad. Assuming it's done like that, the standard tiny bumpers under the corners and a clear anodized surface should make it sufficiently scratch resistant. Definitely more so than plastic, IMO. And you could have the unibody concept lending it rigidity while keeping the number of parts down.



    Quote:

    Also don't buy the OSX interface.



    I understand that one. It is a fan rendering, after all. There's a lot of speculation as to what the UI will be, I don't think it makes sense to say what it won't be, because Apple fans can be wrong about their declarations of what isn't going to be an Apple product. I recall some fans saying the "fat" nano will never happen, the same with the vertical screen nano, premature declarations of the death of the Classic, the leaked photo of the aluminum keyboard was just a "photoshop job" and so on. Whatever it will be, it will be, hopefully people don't stake their reputation on a prediction of any particular detail. I don't even think this upcoming announcement even has to be a tablet, though I think it probably is a tablet in some form. Hopefully it's going to be something good and not a repeat of the overhyped iPod HiFi announcement.
  • Reply 14 of 257
    As for casing, aluminum one makes sense as a distinction from Touch - iPhone line design.
  • Reply 15 of 257
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    It's nice to see Kasper around, I thought he wasn't with the site anymore.



    Never left =P



    K
  • Reply 16 of 257




    I'm not a big fan of the color, but my kids are going to love it......
  • Reply 17 of 257
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    I don't know if that's a sufficient rebuttal against the idea. The aluminum shelled notebooks seem to hold up pretty well. My old style 2007 MBP still looks nice, and my sister's early 2006 doesn't look too bad. Assuming it's done like that, the standard tiny bumpers under the corners and a clear anodized surface should make it sufficiently scratch resistant. Definitely more so than plastic, IMO. And you could have the unibody concept lending it rigidity while keeping the number of parts down.



    You obviously look after your MBP better than I do - mine looks like it's been attacked by Edward Scissorhands! Agree with what you say about plastic though, I expect aluminium will hold up better.
  • Reply 18 of 257
    ulfoafulfoaf Posts: 175member
    Hmm... These comments agree with the shot of what looks like a huge iPhone frame fitting over a 10" keyboard. This means ...



    nothing.



    There have been some very real looking fakes of iPods, iPhones, iMacs, etc posted over the last couple years. I believed a few were real...but they weren't.



    BTW, if someone is complaining about speculation, Why are they on a rumor sight? Perhaps they need to look up the word "rumor."
  • Reply 19 of 257
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Of all the mockups and renderings that have surfaced on the Web attempting to depict what the final product will look like, the rendition below created by Flickr user Fotoboer.nl last August is strikingly close to the real deal, those same people say.



    C'mon AI, surely, you give our own Ireland some credit? This mockup is not much different from his, and I recall that was from ages ago......
  • Reply 20 of 257
    oflifeoflife Posts: 120member
    The iPhone is slippery, but it's compact size means you can grip it. A tablet made from slippery materials will be easily dropped. I am fed up of having to purchase custom cases (that eventually wear out) for my Apple products (not including laptop bags). If the tablet is the same, and requires a case to be grippable, this is going to be BAD news.

    Further, I am (really) allergic to ALL Apple's aluminium products (skin cracks and bleeds after 3 to 10 minutes of contact), such as the PowerBooks, MacBooks and even the new keyboards and remote. And I have read some others are too. (I use an external monitor and plastic keyboard on my MacBook Pro and can no longer use it on it's own unless avoiding touching the metal parts.) Anyway, if the tablet is also coated in the same material as their other aly devices, I won't be able to use it because adding a protective case will simply bulk it up.



    I hope it is grippy by default, else they will lose a customer.
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