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

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    smiles77smiles77 Posts: 668member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 43
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 43
    jnjnjnjnjnjn Posts: 588member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 43
    rp2011rp2011 Posts: 159member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 43
    titantigertitantiger Posts: 220member
    If they release that shitty looking thing and that's what finally comes to TMobile instead of the iPhone5, I'm gonna be pissed.
  • Reply 6 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 43
    smiles77smiles77 Posts: 668member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 43
    gotwakegotwake Posts: 111member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 43
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 16,937member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 43
    smiles77smiles77 Posts: 668member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 43
    frykefryke Posts: 217member
    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...
  • Reply 14 of 43
    is the S for Sprint? I hope so
  • Reply 15 of 43
    shrikeshrike Posts: 494member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 43
    guch20guch20 Posts: 173member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 43
    cvaldes1831cvaldes1831 Posts: 1,832member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 43
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Conversion kit.
  • Reply 20 of 43
    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
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