April 20, 2012
Korean Sources Say ‘Liquid Metal’ iPhone In The Works
Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com
Anticipation was at a fever pitch as Tim Cook took the stage for Apple´s “Let´s Talk iPhone” event last fall. After all, it had been nearly 16 months since they had released the iPhone 4, and speculation was running wild.
In January of the same year, Apple had finally teamed up with Verizon to create a CDMA variant of the popular smartphone capable of working on their network, as well as Chinese networks. This sent people into a prediction panic.
Since the iPhones initial debut, new versions had always been released in late June or early July. Would Apple really release a new phone less than 6 months after Verizon´s customers had just signed into a new 2-year contract to get the iPhone? Would Apple be switching their cycle and announce the next iPhone and all other proceeding iPhones in January?
People began to expect big things from the next iPhone, and these expectations grew exponentially when Apple released a statement saying they would not be announcing any new hardware at their 2011 World Wide Developers Conference, (WWDC) where they announced the first iPhone.
With all this extra time, people thought they must be working on something completely new and utterly revolutionary. Mockups began to show up on Apple rumor sites. Case manufacturers said they had seen early prototypes and began to sell cases for the new “iPhone 5” before one had even been announced.
Then, when Tim Cook announced the iPhone 4S in October, the same people who expected something new and revolutionary were completely let down, despite some really great advances in the product and record-breaking first weekend sales.
Now, we find ourselves back at the beginning of another iPhone rumor cycle. It´s no surprise some of the same people who expected a new form factor are back at it again, saying this next iPhone will be truly paradigm shifting.
Spurring these rumors on will be news which emerged this week from Korean site etnews.com. According to Kim In-soon from etnews.com, Apple will use a material known as liquid metal for their next iPhone. For extra points, In-soon predicts the new phone will be announced at this year´s WWDC, which dates have yet to be announced. Claiming the famous “unnamed industry source,” In-Soon says the material consists of “zirconium, titanium, nickel, copper and so forth” and will give the device “an outer surface smooth like liquid.”
As AppleInsider.com smartly points out, the report references “liquid metal” in general, while the proper noun “Liquidmetal” refers to a type of material which Apple purchased exclusive rights to use in 2010. The company behind the material, Liquidmetal Technologies said in March it was paid $20 million by Apple to achieve exclusive electronic rights to the smooth-as-glass material.
Discovered in 1992 at the California Institute of Technology, Liquidmetal is a class of patented amorphous metal alloys which essentially looks like metallic glass. The makers of the stuff say it´s not only incredibly durable, but also incredibly easy to shape into specific form factors. Speaking to Wired.com about the new metal, IHS Senior Principal Analyst Kevin Keller says, Turn your iPhone into a walkie-talkie "Liquidmetal allows precision parts to be fabricated similar to plastic injection molding, but with similar properties to metal.”
If these rumors are true, it won´t be the first time Apple has used Liquidmetal in their devices. The SIM card ejector tool in newer iPhones and the first generation iPad was made out of the metallic glass material. Since then, it´s also been used in other internal components, according to Keller.
Could this be the great and storied “iPhone 5” people have been waiting more than a year for?