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

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014


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 ]

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 106
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member




    Transparent aluminum, huh?
  • Reply 2 of 106
    Mods?
  • Reply 3 of 106
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,035member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 106
    tkullatkulla Posts: 2member
    Reardon Steel finally finds a market. They just don't lay that many miles of railroad tracks these days...
  • Reply 5 of 106
    brutus009brutus009 Posts: 356member
    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.)
  • Reply 6 of 106
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 106
    robogoborobogobo Posts: 378member
    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.



  • Reply 8 of 106
    daharderdaharder Posts: 1,580member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 106
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,234member
    I hope this one is true.
  • Reply 10 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.
  • Reply 11 of 106
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 106
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,177member
    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.
  • Reply 13 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?



  • Reply 14 of 106
    kpomkpom Posts: 653member
    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.
  • Reply 15 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.
  • Reply 16 of 106
    dmarcootdmarcoot Posts: 191member
    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.



  • Reply 17 of 106
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    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?
  • Reply 18 of 106
    sol77sol77 Posts: 203member
    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..."
  • Reply 19 of 106
    hobbithobbit Posts: 532member
    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.
  • Reply 20 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
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