iPhone 5 Details Kinda, Sorta Leak

Did the WSJ just unofficially, officially-ish reveal the first really plausible details about the iPhone 5? Very possibly, and it seems to be continuing the iPhone’s design evolution.

iPhone shadow

Apple‘s upcoming iPhone 5 will be “thinner and lighter” than the iPhone 4 and also sport an 8 megapixel camera, according to sources who spoke to official Apple leakbucket the Wall Street Journal. Previous rumors have come from all over, but we suspect the WSJ may have become the preferred channel for Apple since it can control expectations and hype in the weeks before a new product arrives and possibly allay fears of some investors who’ve been downgrading Apple for perceived delays.


But back to the iPhone 5. Apple may have ordered 25 million of ’em up until the end of 2011 … a massive boost on earlier sales.

The numerous sources “familiar with the situation” say the design–thinner and lighter–could support the notion the iPhone 5 will get an all-metal work-over (because the back would be stronger and lighter and thinner than the iPhone 4’s attractive but flawed glass rear shell). Other sources have reported to the WSJ that yields may be low at first because the new device is “complicated and difficult to assemble.” We might should expect more glass-to-display bonding (to save on depth) and innovative liquid-metal bonds between the chassis and glass.

The details also suggest that there may only be one iPhone model en route, and the expectations of a lower-priced new model may be dashed–although only Hon Hai, one of Apple’s suppliers, is quoted and it’s plausible a different contract could go to a different firm.

Meantime, the thinner and lighter shape means Apple is following its own trend and is gently evolving the iPhone’s design rather than radically overhauling it, as new tech advances make innovative manufacturing options possible. Will the rumored teardrop shape surface in the final phone?

And then there’s the 25 million figure to think about. Apple sold a record-breaking 18.6 million iPhones in the first three months of 2011, boosted by Verizon CDMA units and global availability of the iPhone 4. Assuming Apple has ordered 25 million iPhone 5s for the period September-December, and that it’ll keep the iPhone 4 (or the 3GS or the rumored 4S) on sale at a lower price alongside the flagship new phone, that’ll mean a huge sales boost.

Why is this even important? Because though detractors like to pretend it’s not true, Apple does set the high bar for the current smartphone design, and other devices with OSs like Android through WebOS to Windows Phones tend to follow in its wake–Samsung so closely copied the design it’s now in a mess of legal troubles. Since we now know the world is turning to smartphones over all other types, this means Apple is leading the trend for the majority of people’s mobile phone purchases. Basically, the iPhone 5 will be a role model for a hundreds-of-billions-of-dollars industry.


[Image: Flickr user candelabrumdanse]

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