If the glimpses of the purported iPhone 5 units that we’ve seen thus far are all fakes, then they are the best fakes we’ve seen to date. But there’s one angle to these supposed sightings of the New iPhone that look off to me.
The more and more we hear about iPhone 5 sightings, parts, “proof” in the iOS 6 beta code, and beyond, consumers, the media, and even case designers are increasingly believing the hype. The feeling is that where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and the fact that so many of these parts are showing up, and all of them appear to match up with one another, point to consensus.
Skeptical holdouts have pointed to the odd elongated screen as a red flag for the iPhone 5 prototypes’ authenticity. Another eyebrow-raiser has been the slightly mismatched metal on the backs of both the white and black iPhone 5 prototypes that suggests to some that Apple tends to try to make their form factors look streamlined and seamless. But these arguments, while legitimate, are debatable as well: Apple could very well see their longer-but-not-wider display as a compromise between a larger screen that still maintains the profile of the classic iPhone dimensions. And the slightly mismatched metal could be an aesthetic flair to show off the fact that the iPhone 5 will have a metal back — maybe even made out of the now-mythic LiquidMetal.
I can actually buy both of those arguments. But there is another aspect of the iPhone 5 sightings that, to me, looks really bogus, and no one has ever brought it up. In fact, it’s an angle that gets shown off regularly. Take a look:
The bottom of these iPhone 5 units, to me, look really “off.” And it’s not just a gut feeling, either. First off, have we not heard that the MagSafe is coming to the iPhone 5′s dock connector, and that it will be somewhere in the 9-pin range? I’m not exactly sure that the MagSafe is ready to be able to transfer both power and energy, but even if it is, take a look at the MagSafe on a MacBook: you can clearly see the pins, and the socket itself is rather shallow — nothing like the gaping hole depicted above. It could be that this particular photo only shows the form factor and does not contain the innards, but even the purported “fully assembled” iPhone 5 sightings have looked like this.
Second, what’s with the headphone jack on the bottom of the device? Does it not seem rather odd that Apple would move it from top to the bottom? Perhaps it’s because of NFC hardware that could be positioned in the upper left quadrant of the device, but I’m still doubtful of that. And again, the hole for the jack looks nothing like it does on the iPhone 4 and 4S, which has a fine circle around it. The new jack looks like a “plain” 1/8″ jack that you would see on a Magnavox walkman from the mid 80s.
Third, what’s with the asymmetrical number of speaker holes in the bottom? I get it — the presence of the headphone jack reduces the lefthand number of holes to only five. But does Apple do asymmetry like this? The bottom speaker screens on the current iPhone are elegant — they look like mini versions of something Bose would create. The asymmetrical, clumsy look of the speaker array on this model is homely by Apple’s standards.
To make a truly believable iPhone 5, one would have to be a kind of “master sculptor,” taking into account every possible angle of the device, and crafting it in such a way that rings true as an Apple design. In my opinion, there are just enough questionable angles to this iPhone 5 to keep it in question up to the very day that Tim Cook walks out on stage with it — or not.
By Michael Nace