It has long been speculated that the iPhone 5 might trade in glass for metal, with the LiquidMetal alloy providing the perfect construction material. Now, a new rumor has emerged, thrusting LiquidMetal back into the rumor mill again. Read how this new rumor may connect with what LiquidMetal themselves told us on the day of the iPad 3′s launch, further suggesting a June iPhone 5 launch.
The iPhone 5 News Blog has pursued the LiquidMetal story line in the iPhone 5 rumor mill since last June, when a weak rumor sent the meta alloy’s shares soaring. Since that time, we’ve made it a point to put out all of the LiquidMetal rumors we could get our hands on, since the unique metal could allow Apple to do some wondrous things for the iPhone 5′s form factor.
A new LiquidMetal-related story has popped today in the rumor mill, suggesting that the iPhone 5 could indeed end up replacing much of its glass form factor with metal.
All of the usual suspects have articles about it today, including MacRumors, SlashGear, and 9to5Mac. But all of these sites are quoting ETNews, a Korean-based tech news outlet, who had this to say:
According to industry sources, the next flagship phones of the companies are expected to adopt unprecedented materials for their main bodies, that is, ceramic for the Galaxy S3 and liquid metal for iPhone5, both being thin, light and highly resistant to external impacts. The new phase of the rivalry is because neither one of them can get a decisive edge over the other solely with its OS and AP specifications, features or design.
Scanning the article, I could never get any kind of explanation as to who these industry sources are, or where they are coming from. And that would be both helpful and more reassuring, since it would add more veracity to the claim. The article also stated that “The new iPhone is expected to make its debut at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco in June,” but again didn’t qualify that statement, so we don’t know if it too comes from the above mentioned “industry sources,” or just a parroting of speculation and opinion found on blogs such as this one.
Reflecting on how much of this ETNews report can be believed, MacRumors points out that: “the site did incorrectly claim last year that the iPhone would launch in late June with a special event several weeks after WWDC. The site appears to have been more accurate with its January claim that Sharp had been cut out of the supply chain for the display in the new iPad. Sharp did experience difficulties meeting Apple’s quality control standards for the display production, and is only now ramping up production to help meet demand.” While MacRumors is willing to wholesale-brand the rumor as most likely unreliable, one could split the difference: if ETNews has gotten release date rumors wrong but production rumors right, then the LiquidMetal rumor could be more legitimate than their facile statement that the iPhone 5 will be released in June.
In an effort to match patents with rumor, Patently Apple joined the fray by leafing through its archives of Apple patent filings that relate to their licensing of LiquidMetal’s alloys, pointing their readers to a “report titled ‘Looking into One of Apple’s Special-Purpose Liquidmetal Projects” that was based on several patents related to Apple’s agreement with Liquidmetal Technologies.’” Patently Apple remarks that “While Apple’s iPhone 4′s glass design definitely had its share of critics and PR problems with antennagate, it still remains the number smartphone on the market. Yet without a doubt a fresh new design using liquidmetal will help to reignite the iPhone’s hysteria around the globe.”
All of these reports however, are failing to recall a more recent LiquidMetal-related news piece that could directly relate to what ETNews is telling us. On March 7th — the morning that the iPad 3 was to be announced, LiquidMetal released this statement to the press:
Liquidmetal Technologies today announced that its manufacturing operations are currently in the midst of shipping commercial parts to several of its customers world-wide. Parts delivery began this past December with continuing shipments scheduled for the months ahead.
The lake-breaking assumption that day was that the iPad 3 was going to have a LiquidMetal chassis. We didn’t get around to reporting it that day, since there was so much going on with the iPad 3 announcement, but you can read a report about it from 9to5Mac. What the tech media keyed on was that the “parts delivery began this last December,” which would have been in keeping with iPad production. However, with the possibility of a June iPhone 5 release date looming, what are the chances that these parts were actually for the iPhone 5?
Everything else in this article is total rumor — but the LiquidMetal press release isn’t. We don’t know where or for what those LiquidMetal shipments were/are for, but when you couple that press release with this new rumor, it makes a compelling case for a LiquidMetal iPhone 5, no?
By Michael Nace