iDealsChina.com has posted images it says are leaked mold engineering renderings of the Apple iPhone 5, provided to third-party manufacturers to create cases for the smartphone, which is expected to launch this June.
Consumer Reports snubbed the Verizon iPhone 4 in January, calling it "middle-aged." The site noted that while most new Android smartphones feature 4-inch displays, the iPhone is still at 3.5 inches. The renderings, however, show the iPhone 5 to play catch-up-featuring a 4-inch display but in a form factor the same size as the iPhone 4. Apple appears to have made this possible "by shaving the side bezels down to the thickness of a razor blade," reports CultofMac.com.
While rumors have additionally emerged that the iPhone 5 will feature a curved back, the images show it to stay true to the iPhone 4's design. The images also indicate that still other rumors suggesting that Apple will forgo the iPhone's glass back for an aluminum one are incorrect.
A March 7 report in Taiwan's Economic Daily News, for example, said Apple will emphasize aluminum over glass, and possibly eliminate the exterior antenna rim design that led to the "Antennagate" fiasco that continues to plague Apple. (Most recently, Consumer Reports said it couldn't recommend the Verizon iPhone 4, due to its poor antenna reception.)
Teardowns of the Verizon iPhone 4 have revealed other hints at what Apple might unveil come June. iFixit discovered that Apple has replaced a Broadcom GPS chip with a Qualcomm MDM600. While the chip, according to an iHS iSuppli teardown, likely offers Apple a cost savings, it also supports both CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GSM technologies-the former of which is used by Verizon Wireless and the latter of which AT&T, along with most European carriers, supports.
"Can it be that Apple's thinking of using this chip in iPad 2? Or maybe when the iPhone 5 is released there will be just one phone for both Verizon and AT&T?" iFixit's M.J. wondered in a Feb. 7 video, ahead of the iPad 2's official introduction. "That would be great."
Apple is notoriously tight-lipped about its product plans-giving zero hints until CEO Steve Jobs himself introduces the company's latest and greatest-which tends to leave a market that's anxious for details on what's next to speculate for itself.
Other such speculations include talk that the iPhone 5 will feature Apple's A5 processor, which the company included in the iPad 2, as well as higher-resolution cameras, hardware upgraded to enable 3G FaceTime video conferencing and NFC (near-field communication) technology. In August, Apple hired an NFC expert as the new product manager for mobile commerce, and over the summer also published a number of NFC-related patents.
Android-running smartphones are also expected to feature NFC-which could effectively enable smartphones to act as a wallet, and in a manner said to be more secure than a credit card swipe. In November, Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile announced they would be working together on Isis, a commerce network based on NFC.
Nokia has for years included NFC on some handsets. "It adds further value to the handset and ultimately the consumer, by allowing access to new services and digital content on their mobile easily and conveniently," a Nokia spokesperson told eWEEK.
Whether future iPhone users will be among those consumers, we'll have to wait until June to find out.