Aluminum unibody iPhone 5, low-cost iPhone 4S seen propelling Apple's sales

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple is expected by one Wall Street analyst to announce a completely redesigned "iPhone 5," with a new unibody aluminum design, as well as a low-end "iPhone 4S," geared toward the midrange smartphone market, in the coming weeks.



The two anticipated new iPhone models are expected by analyst Chris Whitmore with Deutsche Bank to push Apple's smartphone sales even higher. He sees the so-called "iPhone 4S" as a handset with a bill-of-material cost lower than $150, allowing Apple to sell it for between $300 and $350 without a carrier subsidy.



Whitmore sees a low-cost iPhone giving Apple even greater market penetration into the midrange smartphone market, where he estimates there are about 1 billion prepaid customers. Such a move would "drastically expand" the addressable smartphone market for Apple, he believes.



The anticipated iPhone 4S is viewed as essentially an 8GB iPod touch with an added cellular antenna. Whitmore believes such a device could achieve margins of around 50 percent, if it were to be sold for more than $300. He noted the current 8GB iPod touch, which sells for $229, has margins of about 38 percent.



In his note to investors on Monday, Whitmore also made brief mention of Apple's fifth-generation iPhone, which he expects will be a completely redesigned handset. Specifically, he said he expects the device to have an aluminum unibody construction to replace the current glass back of the iPhone 4.



In addition, Whitmore also believes that the so-called "iPhone 5" will sport a better camera and a slightly larger screen size. Various rumors have suggested the next handset will have an 8-megapixel camera along with an edge-to-edge screen.



Claims that Apple's next iPhone will sport an aluminum back first surfaced in March, when it was said that ditching glass could allow the handset to be even lighter. It was claimed again in August that Apple's iPhone 5 will sport a "metal chassis" replacing the reinforced glass on the back of the iPhone 4.







Leading up to an anticipated iPhone announcement from Apple, a number of alleged parts have leaked from the company's overseas supply chain showing a handset largely similar to the iPhone 4. Some reports have claimed that these are for Apple's new low-cost iPhone 4S, while others have said the iPhone 5 will look largely the same as the current model.



Though no components showing a drastically redesigned iPhone 5 have appeared, a number of third-party cases have shown a redesigned iPhone with curved sides leading to a flat back. In addition, The New York Times has claimed that the iPhone 5 will sport a "fairly different" look on the outside.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 65
    This should be the first release of their exclusive contract with a certain CalTech Materials Science Firm.



    Looks like LiquidMetal cleaned up their website.



    http://www.liquidmetal.com/



    Used to be quite a pile.
  • Reply 2 of 65
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,293member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    This should be the first release of their exclusive contract with a certain CalTech Materials Science Firm.



    Looks like LiquidMetal cleaned up their website.



    http://www.liquidmetal.com/



    Used to be quite a pile.



    I have been wondering when Apple would start using this. The arguments previously raged here on AI over the strength to weight ratios of a unibody aluminum design versus liquidmetal can start over
  • Reply 3 of 65
    Will all of the antennas have to be external with an aluminum unibody? 4 for wireless communication, and GPS too?
  • Reply 4 of 65
    I will be happy if Apple does use a strong and lightweight metal body on the iPhone 5. I have been using my Samsung Focus since I sold my iPhone 3GS (my contract is up and I don't want an iPhone 4). At first I wasn't happy with the weight of the Focus, but after a few weeks of day-to-day usage (versus as a back up GoPhone) I really like the lighter weight. If Apple can come close to matching that weight, but with a metal enclosure I will be a happy camper. The iPhone 4 is nice to look at, but the sharp edges and extra weight are really a turn off. \
  • Reply 5 of 65
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,293member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post


    Will all of the antennas have to be external with an aluminum unibody? 4 for wireless communication, and GPS too?



    I was just reading the FAQ on the Liquidmetal web site to see about that. It is non-magnetic and a poor conductor but I have not seen any information regarding its radio frequency blocking properties. Any physicists here to answer that? It is a Zr/Ti based alloy.
  • Reply 6 of 65
    It would be nice if the iPhone 5 were a re-imagined original iPhone with a design update. Pretty much a smaller iPad 2 with less tapered back edges.
  • Reply 7 of 65
    dave k.dave k. Posts: 1,306member
    I wonder if the iPad 2 cover technology will find its way to the iPhone 5??
  • Reply 8 of 65
    sennensennen Posts: 1,465member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post


    Will all of the antennas have to be external with an aluminum unibody? 4 for wireless communication, and GPS too?



    Hopefully, as the iPhone 4 proved this gives much better performance.
  • Reply 9 of 65
    I can't wait until these trash guessing articles on iphone 5 end.
  • Reply 10 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    This should be the first release of their exclusive contract with a certain CalTech Materials Science Firm.



    Looks like LiquidMetal cleaned up their website.



    http://www.liquidmetal.com/



    Used to be quite a pile.



    I sure hope so. The stock has stunk in the past couple of months......\
  • Reply 11 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dave K. View Post


    I wonder if the iPad 2 cover technology will find its way to the iPhone 5??



    Excellent call!
  • Reply 12 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Whitmore sees a low-cost iPhone giving Apple even greater market penetration into the midrange smartphone market, where he estimates there are about 1 billion prepaid customers. Such a move would "drastically expand" the addressable smartphone market for Apple, he believes.



    The anticipated iPhone 4S is viewed as essentially an 8GB iPod touch with an added cellular antenna. That's a device. Whitmore believes could achieve margins of around 50 percent, if such a device were to be sold for more than $300. He noted the current 8GB iPod touch, which sells for $229, has margins of about 38 percent.



    More than $300? And defeat its purpose of being a cheap'n'good iPhone?



    I'd say $250-$300 TOPS. Apple is going to be as agressive about this as they are with the iPad. And a 35% profit margin isn't exactly small.
  • Reply 13 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    I was just reading the FAQ on the Liquidmetal web site to see about that. It is non-magnetic and a poor conductor but I have not seen any information regarding its radio frequency blocking properties. Any physicists here to answer that? It is a Zr/Ti based alloy.



    I do not know Liquidmetal's trade secrets. But I am reasonably certain their material falls in the category of bulk metallic glass (this makes sense to me because this company's technology came out of a Caltech lab that specializes in BMG). BMG typically has more than just Zr/Ti - copper, beryllium and nickel are usually present in meaningful percentage (at least 2 of the 3). The neat thing about BMG is that you can tweak its properties by varying the composition. Some BMG alloys have high resistivity; some have low. So, the exact properties of the material that Apple is allegedly using depend on the composition.
  • Reply 14 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lukeskymac View Post


    More than $300? And defeat its purpose of being a cheap'n'good iPhone?



    I'd say $250-$300 TOPS. Apple is going to be as agressive about this as they are with the iPad. And a 35% profit margin isn't exactly small.



    $300 off-contract for what basically would be the current iPhone 4 with 8GB capacity would be a steal if you ask me. Some of the crappiest plastic phones I know cost more than $300 off-contract.
  • Reply 15 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dave K. View Post


    I wonder if the iPad 2 cover technology will find its way to the iPhone 5??



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Excellent call!



    That would be a rather cute smart cover. In fact, they can call it that - the Cute Cover!
  • Reply 16 of 65
    I wonder what Unibody means in the context of the iPhone?



    For a laptop, it is quite meaningful. Look at the standard laptop and you see many panels screwed together. Sometimes, changing a basic component requires removing 25 screws. The Unibody design was therefore a significant step forward.



    The standard smartphone, however, really has very few structural components. Surely, non-Apple manufacturers have covers for the battery and SIM, etc. But the parts count is quite low. In fact, I wonder if the original iPhone could already qualify as a unibody?
  • Reply 17 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    I have been wondering when Apple would start using this. The arguments previously raged here on AI over the strength to weight ratios of a unibody aluminum design versus liquidmetal can start over



    I suspect they coat the metal surface with liquid-metal, but I can't imagine how they do it. So, only a very clever design can do
  • Reply 18 of 65
    I'm going to enjoy seeing those Android smartphone vendors trying to duplicate a unibody iPhone. Apple will be able to hold very tight tolerances around the circuitry and keep the body stiff and light. I often wonder how those larger Android smartphones are able to maintain their rigidity being made with nearly all plastic and having removable plastic backs to access the battery. I guess the internal circuit boards take some of the stress and offer twist resistance since they're screwed into place. Most likely the Android smartphone vendors won't try unibody because then they'd have a harder time replacing their batteries. Only the iPhone can get away with having a solid back.
  • Reply 19 of 65
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,293member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jj.yuan View Post


    I suspect they coat the metal surface with liquid-metal, but I can't imagine how they do it. So, only a very clever design can do



    Not my area of expertise but I'd have thought if they use Liquidmetal they will more likely cast the entire casing using it not coat anything. The point is to achieve a unibody design without the need to machine it as they do now with an aluminum block.
  • Reply 20 of 65
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    This should be the first release of their exclusive contract with a certain CalTech Materials Science Firm.



    Looks like LiquidMetal cleaned up their website.



    http://www.liquidmetal.com/



    Used to be quite a pile.



    What are you referring to exactly? a Liquid metal body for an iPhone would have very few advantages and quite a few drawbacks. Most notably the price would be astronomical and the chassis would be even less radio transparent than an aluminium one.



    If they use liquid metal at all it will be in the battery contacts where it will actually do some good.
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