New, purported iPhone 5 front piece appears to match up with the 9to5Mac prototypes, depicting a centered FaceTime Camera. But are all of these images adding up to consensus, or confusion?
If you are one of the iPhone enthusiasts out there who is not particularly excited about the longer iPhone 5 theory with stretched aspect ratio, then the recent parade of purported leaked parts cannot be good news for you. Ever since the release of the now-famous 9to5Mac iPhone 5 prototypes, virtually every subsequent iPhone 5 part that has leaked onto the rumor appears to match the original prototypes. This new one is no exception.
The new sighting was first reported on a Chinese tech website called Apple.pro, and appears to depict an iPhone 5 front casing that would appear to feature the same new aspect ratio that we’ve seen appearing on other parts leaks as well. TechCrunch reports the following about the new parts leak:
“They show that the front-facing camera for video chat has been centered above the speaker grill. This matches up splendidly with images shown by 9to5mac, especially since this image also shows a taller screen with the same exact width and bezels as the iPhone 4/4S.”
TechCrunch appears to have eyeballed the similarity between this piece and the prototype shots from 9to5Mac — there’s no indisputable match-up between them. But I think that the most interesting discussion topic about this particular parts leak is the appearance of a centered front-facing camera, and whether that subtle change proves this piece to be the ring thing or yet another bogus sighting.
While TechCrunch has reported on the this feature change, they haven’t really substantiated its purpose — and without a reasonable purpose for moving the front-facing camera to the top of the earpiece, its hard to understand why Apple would move it just for the sake of moving it. Looking at my iPhone 4, the off-center front-facing camera works like a charm — Apple obviously positioned it in such a way that offers the user an optimal functionality.
The only reason for moving the front-facing camera that I can imagine is that it could have something to do with an NFC transmitter being installed in the new iPhone 5 that would compete for space on the left-hand side of the device. You’ll recall that in some of the NFC-related patents we’ve looked at, the transmitter/antenna is placed on the left side of the schematic.
Take a look here.
Of course, it can also be argued that the original prototype photos of the iPhone 5 from 9to5Mac don’t seem to show anything within the chassis that points to NFC hardware on that side of the device. And herein lies the problem: it is just so easy for scammers to reverse-engineer fake parts based on the exacting specs of the original 9to5Mac photos. Because they gave access to such detail, they in essence gave schemesters everything they need to create bogus parts.
And that brings us back to the question posed at the beginning of this article: are all of these parts, which appear to match up with the original prototype, confirm the purported new design? Will the iPhone 5 essentially have this longer aspect ratio, an iPhone 4-esque look, and a metal back? Or do all of these parts add up to little more than static in the rumor mill?
For my part, I don’t think there’s an easy answer. From a design standpoint, there are believable elements to the 9to5Mac prototype and subsequent parts leaks: one could imagine Apple dreaming up the new aspect ratio as an answer to iPhone users’ call for a larger screen, while still maintaining some semblance of the original iPhone’s dimensions. And regardless of how you might feel about the iPhone 4 form factor, it still remains quite unique as far as smartphone form factors go — Apple could very well want to keep some of its iconic design.
And since TechCrunch and others are insisting that the iPhone 5 will herald in this new 19-pin dock connector — a design that we’ve seen in Apple patents — these parts and designs are not outrageous.
What is outrageous, however, is that in a year where the Apple chief himself talked about “doubling down” on security, why would we be seeing an unprecedented number of parts leaking into the rumor mill? After keeping the merely-refreshed iPhone 4S well under wraps until its announcement last fall, why would we be seeing the completely overhauled iPhone 5 from all these different angles?
Judging these new iPhone 5 designs is complex, because people’s’ love, hate, or indifference over what they are seeing gets mixed into whether or not the appearance of the parts themselves seems plausible or not. To me, they are two completely different discussion points: 1) do you think this is really the iPhone 5, and if yes 2) what do you think about it?
By Michael Nace