iPhone 5 May Get New Display, 'Liquidmetal' - InformationWeek

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Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
4/20/2012
09:41 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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iPhone 5 May Get New Display, 'Liquidmetal'

Reports that surfaced this week suggest the next iPhone will use brand-new touch screen technology and will be encased in something called "liquidmetal."

It's been a busy week for iPhone 5 reports. Some of the fun words coughed up by the Internet include "liquidmetal" and "in-cell multi-touch." Let's dive in and have a look-see at these supposed nuggets of iPhone knowledge, shall we?

First up is liquidmetal. I don't know about you, but the first thing that came to my mind when I read the term was some dialogue from Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. According to Korean news site ETnews, however, Apple acquired a license to use Liquidmetal technology back in 2010. So far, the company has only used it in small objects, such as the SIM ejector tool that ships with the iPhone and some iPads. But what the heck is it?

According to Liquidmetal's website, "Liquidmetal alloys combine over twice the strength of titanium with the processing efficiency of plastics. Our scientists have developed the technology where our metal alloys behave similar to plastics." It's an alloy made of zirconium, titanium, nickel, copper, and other materials put through a patented strengthening/bonding process. The company says it has numerous customers and applications include military, medical, sports/performance, and industrial coating. Sounds like some cool stuff.

ETnews believes that Apple will use this material in the shell or casing for the next iPhone. Now, the iPhone 4S (which was supposed to be the iPhone 5) was rumored to have a metallic shell more than a year ago. As we all know, that didn't pan out. I can't say that I place much stock in ETnews' report, but Liquidmetal is legit, and Apple has a license to use the material. Is it possible Apple will ditch the fortified glass of the iPhone 4/4S and use Liquidmetal in its next iPhone? Sure. Moving on.

[ Take a look at Apple's latest gadget. See New iPad Teardown: Inside Apple's Tablet. ]

Everyone's favorite tech rumor site, DigiTimes, says that the cost to make in-cell multi-touch technology has dropped enough to convince Apple it's time to switch from current touch tech to the newer stuff.

What's in-cell multi-touch technology? In-cell multi-touch is built directly into the TFT LCD panel, and is not a separate layer above the LCD panel. This allows devices to be thinner and lighter, and the display itself to be brighter. DigiTimes said that Apple is buying such touch panels from Sharp and Toshiba.

Put these two reports together, and the iPhone 5 is starting to sound downright sexy. So when will we see it? Well, it just so happens that there have been some new reports on the timing of the iPhone 5 this week, too! Aren't we lucky?

The same ETnews report that brought us the liquidmetal information suggests that Apple will announce the iPhone 5 at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. That's earlier that most others have predicted. Though Apple has used WWDC to announce iPhones in the past, it didn't in 2011, and waited until October to introduce the iPhone 4S.

October is when Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes the iPhone 5 will appear. In a note sent to clients Thursday, Munster noted that October is the most probable month for the iPhone 5 to debut due to supply constraints facing chip-maker Qualcomm. Qualcomm is said to be supplying the LTE 4G radio technology in the iPhone 5. Qualcomm earlier this week warned that it is seeing incredibly high demand for its chipsets, and supply will not be able to keep up with demand for a number of months.

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Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/21/2012 | 1:11:38 AM
re: iPhone 5 May Get New Display, 'Liquidmetal'
With the signal reception issues of the latest and greatest iPhones, is Apple trying to make sure that their phones don't get reception by adding even more metal to the design? Or are they planning on using the metal case as an additional antenna surface in an attempt to gather more signal into the handset?

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
Aden11
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Aden11,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/23/2012 | 5:23:43 PM
re: iPhone 5 May Get New Display, 'Liquidmetal'
Andrew: with all due respect what 'signal reception' issues you are pointing out other known problem of iPhone4, which was rectified with Verizon version?
ANON1234466804894
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ANON1234466804894,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2012 | 9:02:55 PM
re: iPhone 5 May Get New Display, 'Liquidmetal'
I kinda like the look of the fortified glass.
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