Apple’s next-gen iPhone: Thinner, lighter, faster – and poured?

“The latest unreliable iPhone 5 rumor to cross my desk claims the future Apple smartphone will be created using a new ‘liquid metal’ technology, so the next model to emerge from the iPhone factories over in China may not be cast, but poured,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld.

“Granted, that’s an over-simplification of the Liquidmetal Technology process,” Evans writes. “Apple acquired rights to use these patented alloys way back in 2010. Since it acquired them it doesn’t seem to have done much with the process, [for] which it paid $30 million… There could be some fire to this smoke. Liquidmetal announced in March that it had begun shipping commercial parts to several of its customers. ‘Parts delivery began this past December with continuing shipments scheduled for the months ahead,’ the press release said.”

Evans wonders, “Given recent claims Apple’s iPhone factory partner, Foxconn, has begun recruiting staff to run its iPhone 5 production lines, is it possible the partners are beginning to create the production lines for new iPhones using Liquidmetal?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As with “Liquid Jesus” and “liquid lunch,” we just love to say “Liquidmetal.” Liquid, liquid, liquid!

Related articles:
How Liquidmetal could give the next iPhone its special swagger – April 19, 2012
Apple’s next-gen iPhone main body to shift from Gorilla Glass to Liquidmetal, say industry sources – April 18, 2012
Liquidmetal Technologies filing outlines its multimillion dollar agreement with Apple – March 31, 2012
Apple granted its first Liquidmetal patent – January 5, 2011
Apple patent application describes scratch-resistant stainless steel – October 29, 2010
Join the dots on six future Apple technologies – September 22, 2010
Apple already using Liquidmetal in their… – August 17, 2010
Inventor says Liquidmetal may be used for new iPhone antenna – August 13, 2010
Apple already uses Liquidmetal; Guess which product and win a Magic Trackpad – August 13, 2010
How will Apple use their exclusive Liquidmetal alloy? – August 12, 2010
Apple’s exclusive Liquidmetal pact could see future Apple products encased in metallic glass – August 11, 2010
Apple inks deal for exclusive rights to custom, super-durable metal alloy – August 09, 2010

32 Comments

      1. Only the iPhone 4 has been named according to its iteration.

        The second iPhone was the 3G, the third was the 3GS, the 4th was the 4, the 5th was the 4S. So I don’t think it’s out of the question that it could be the 6, because it’ll be the 6th generation.

        More likely, though, is that it’ll just be “The New iPhone.”

      2. Actually, it ought to be called iPhone 6 as it will be the sixth iteration of the iPhone, not the fifth. People forget that there was never really an iPhone 2. Apple went from iPhone, to iPhone 3G, to iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4, to iPhone 4S. Common sense tells you that the next model will be either iPhone 6 or even ‘the new iPhone’.

      3. Let’s see now, Horshack obviously can’t count
        iPhone (1),
        iPhone 3G (2),
        iPhone 3Gs (3),
        iPhone 4 (4),
        iPhone 4s (5),
        Raymond is RIGHT…
        the next phone will be Apple’s Sixth phone.

  1. First of all, I believe Apple paid $20 million, not $30 million. This company is a very small one. It’s sales, minus that which Apple paid it, are a very small fraction of that, about $2 million a year, or so.

    Even with spending the money received from Apple, I’d don’t see how they could manufacture enough backs for Apple. Apple would need at least 40 million the first quarter alone, and if this phone is a major departure, possibly a fair amount more.

    I’d like to see it happen, assuming its suitable for a phone back with its antenna’s. It could need a plastic window on the back like the first iPhone, or the iPad.

  2. If it’s a unibody of cast metal, how do they expect the iPhone not to overheat with what I presume to be a more powerful chip and hardcore hardware jam packed into it?

    I see overheating happening.

    Who cares, I want one. Even if it does scorch a hole through my hand…. It already has through my pocket… ;D

      1. That’s what’ll be so revolutionary about “the new iPhone” — IT CHANGES SHAPE! The heat allows it to conform to your hand, and your pocket, and your dashboard. There will come into being a new ecosystem of celebrity hand molding, designer shapes. And extrapolating further, Apple Geniuses will know when one has been exposed to water due to its teardrop shape. The new iPhone.

  3. If this rumour is true, LQMT won’t make the cases. There is specialised foundry equipment with third party factories. In Apple’s case, these will likely be in China.

    1. you should. manufacturing processes provide very useful clues as to how long your shiny gadget will work. how tolerant it will be to your accidental abuse. and so forth.

      You also might want to care about where it’s made, if you have any interest in where the profits are funneled and the long-term health of the national economy. Healthy local economy starts with intelligent consumers.

  4. Liquid Metal is a new aluminum alloy process that allows the injection of metal into a mold at much lower temperatures than previous methods. The lower temps allow the molding of odd shapes into a super strong alloy cheaply and faster.
    Currently iphones are cut from aluminum plate in a computer controlled milling machine – expensive and time consuming. The technology is licensed to Apple and to machine tool companies. It’s stock was up from 15 to 25 cents yesterday

    1. To be correct, liquid metal is not an aluminium alloy, and iPhone’s frame is not of aluminium either: it is steel.

      Apple might start making iPhone’s frame from this liquid metal, but it will not influence much on the weight of the device, since glasses, screen and battery weigh much more. Also, this allow is much pricier than steel, so not sure that Apple will use it at all in anything more than SIM card opener which already produced of this liquid metal alloy.

      1. So Apple spent $30 million to have a nice SIM opener? I don’t care if that’s pennies on their pockets, buying exclusive rights to use something as awesome as LiquidMetal on consumer electronics and just build a frickin SIM opener? You’ve got to be joking.

  5. What dullard holds an iPhone in their hand and thinks “this needs to be thinner”? It would be ridiculous for Apple to shave millimeters off the thickness for the sake of fashion and give up a chance to increase battery size and thereby increase battery life.

  6. Why are “high tech” journalists so ignorant of manufacturing TECHNOLOGY ??? Evans has inadequate knowledge.

    Casting _is_ the process of pouring liquid material into a mold to produce complex shapes in one operation.

    Liquid Metal is a company that has developed a range of alloys with amorphous instead of crystalline structure — that is, it’s more like a plastic than the oriented molecular structure you see in many rocks and crystals. So instead of melting a metal at high temperatures at over 1000 degrees, their alloys merely need a few hundreds degrees to soften to a formable state. Liquid Metal is able to employ injection molding, a low-pressure derivative of the forging process, whereby a metal is formed (usually into a mold) by force & pressure. Higher material costs for LM alloys are offset by ability to mass produce with cheaper machinery and fewer finishing operations.

    Today the metal parts of most electronic chassis, including Apple products, are stamped and formed from sheet or extrusion, with seldom any significant milling operations.

    Note that Liquid Metal’s alloys do NOT outperform the more refined traditional alloys manufactured using more sophisticated techniques. Those techniques take time and are therefore seldom chosen for mass production. Liquid Metal is an improvement over cheap mass-produced metal castings on most performance measures.

    Moreover, why the speculation that Liquid Metal parts will be made in China? There is no advantage to perform automated metalworking in Asia at all — it doesn’t rely on cheap manual labor. Trade rules, not manufacturing, is the lure. 40+ years of offshoring continues to undermine the US economy because US executives can’t resist the incentives that communist China gives them — China government organizations will build factories and offer all kinds of services, as well as license you to sell in the Chinese marketplace, all you need to do is divulge all your intellectual property. Wall Street insists this must occur, since institutional investors demand that companies grown infinitely by double-digit returns each year, which is only achievable by selling product in new markets, even if it means supporting communist regimes overseas, and even if it means abiding by horribly unfair trading practices whereby tariffs and quotas in Asia block US exports while the US allows foreign junk into the country without hesitiation. As if Walmartization would make Americans more industrious and self-reliant! The opposite is happening as Wall Street hollows out US industry and tech dweebs take for granted that Apple and all manufacturers will, without question, continue to give away advanced technology to IP thieves overseas. At some point the “free market” crowd will have to wake up and see what they’ve accomplished — turning the US into an agricultural backwater totally dependent on imported diesel to drive our tractors, except for the strips of mansions on the coasts where the fat cats have their gated estates. By the way, these issues are multiple decades in the making and have nothing to do with Obama or Bush or any other single president. It’s Wall Street’s issue. Nothing any single government entity does will make a difference if Wall Street continues to drive short-term insider profit-taking at the expense of long-term prosperity for the entire nation. With loopholes a-plenty, real corporate tax rates are the lowest they’ve ever been and in many cases are zero. Yet Wall Street wants more corporate welfare as they actively lobby for policies that will make US infrastructure fall apart. If you think Romney is any different than Obama, Bush, or Reagan, clearly you’ve been taken in by BS rhetoric that is ignorant of global macroeconomic reality. Rome is burning. Why would we hand more torches to the raiders on Wall Street?

    1. To be correct, since 2008 almost all of Apple’s metal parts are done with the drilling versus molding/folding et cetera.

      Liquid metal is pricy, so for the last years Apple does only little things like SIM card opener from it.

      Apple might become make whole iPhone frame from it, but considering the price and that this will not change phone’s weight that much, I am not sure that this liquid metal rumour is true.

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