Analysts from various financial consulting firms and market intelligence companies are beginning to offer their takes on the rumored Liquidmetal iPhone 5, after a Korean newspaper reported that two of the world’s biggest smartphone vendors were switching to new materials.
One of the two was Apple, and the report mentioned Liquidmetal (the amorphous metal alloy which Apple was granted rights to use in August of 2010) as the fundamental material used to construct the handset.
The report suggested this material would make the phone look and feel “smooth like liquid.”
The idea that the next iPhone will use Liquidmetal for its chassis is not new. In fact, it’s been driving the rumor mill ever since Apple got their license to use it.
The real reason everyone now believes Apple will finally use it stems from the fact that Apple’s next iPhone will almost certainly look entirely different than the last two generations.
And Chris Jones, an analyst with Canalys, agrees that “The next iPhone needs to truly stand out from the crowd. A change in materials is a likely way to differentiate its form factor,” he said, according to Wired’s Gadget Lab.
Jones pointed out that the late Steve Jobs was obsessed with the discovery and use of new materials. Something like Liquidmetal couldn’t have possibly flown under his radar.
“But Apple will need to ensure a change in material does not compromise the performance of the device,” he added, referring to the “antenna-gate” fiasco Apple had to deal with in 2010 when the iPhone 4 debuted.
Quoted in the same piece, IHS Senior Principal Analyst Kevin Keller said “Liquidmetal allows precision parts to be fabricated similar to plastic injection molding, but with similar properties to metal.”
Apple has been using the material for small parts, such as the SIM card ejector tool in some iPhones and iPads shipped in certain parts of the world.
More recently, the material has been used to craft other internal parts and small mechanical components, Keller said.
“We expect Apple and other manufacturers to start using this not only for larger and more visible portions of devices, but also entire enclosures,” he added.