A Liquidmetal iPhone 5: What’s in it for You

“A refreshed iPhone is expected in October, and Apple is considering using a material called Liquidmetal in order to differentiate itself from the competition, according to reports,” Daniel Ionescu reports for PCWorld. “In 2010, Apple purchased worldwide exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal in its products for around $20 million.”

“The material known as Liquidmetal is not actually liquid. It was discovered back in 1992 at the California Institute of Technology and it’s made of a mix of titanium, nickel, copper, and zirconium, among other metals,” Ionescu reports. “Liquidmetal has been used in various consumer electronics and gadgets by now due to its special properties: it’s very durable, it has the lightness of plastic, it’s scratch resistant and smooth to the touch. ”

Ionescu reports, “A Lliquidmetal case for the iPhone means that the phone won’t be as scratch-prone as its siblings with a glass back, lighter, and less likely to shatter into pieces if you drop it. The use of the material for the phone case would also allow for a slimmer profile of the iPhone, as well as make it stand out against other smartphone manufactures, which are still mainly using various types of plastic for their devices. So while Liquidmetal might sound strange, if it makes it into the next iPhone, we might see one of the most durable and slim smartphones so far.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’ll take a Liquidmetal MacBook Air, too, please!

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Apple’s next-gen iPhone may be baptized in Liquidmetal – April 20, 2012
Ceramics, Liquidmetal and Magic Glass, what could Apple’s iPhone 5 tempt us with next? – April 20, 2012
Apple’s iPhone 5 made of metallic glass reportedly arrives this October – April 20, 2012
Apple’s next-gen iPhone: Thinner, lighter, faster – and poured? – April 19, 2012
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

22 Comments

    1. There’s no reason they can’t put the antennas around the edge like they did with the iPhone 4. If the edge is slimmer or has a contour, there’s also no reason it couldn’t be machined to have a slightly rounded edge. This is Apple we’re talking about – they’ll figure out a way!

      1. Sure. But if it blocks RF it WILL limit its application; certainly it can be used, but perhaps not in the way we or Apple would like. Just as we can’t successfully use a piece of sheet steel in place of window glass, at least in a window.

  1. Apple does not consider using Liquidmetal, it is ignorant rumour that considers it.

    Apple bought the licence two years ago and only used it for SIM card dock opener. No use for anything else in iPhone.

    If Apple could make iPhone’s back of metal, then they would use metal as they do with iPod touch. But they can not, since only Wi-Fi or cell 2G signals can stand this much of radioreflective area. But not 3G/4G — hence Jobs had to cede metal back for iPhone 4. For iPhone 4S it is even more prohibitive since Wi-Fi antenna was moved back to the inside of the phone’s body.

    Apple could make iPhone’s metal frame from LiquidMetal, but its weight comparing to screen, glasses and battery is so small already that people would not feel the difference. With the price of this liquid metal being so much higher than that of steel, there is no point to use LiquidMetal for such little change.

      1. I wrote about LiquidMetal in the context of making iPhone, what is discussed in the article.

        Other uses could happen, but in other areas. The license is obviously lont-time one.

        For example, iPad’s or MBA’s enclosure could be done from LiquidMetal if the price will be right. With that amount of metal there will be noticeable difference in weight.

    1. I don’t much like the black plastic strip on the 3G/4G iPads, but the first iPhone also had this, so is it a possibility for the new iPhone with the rest being metal?

      1. For 3G (and 4G) the plastic inset would be too huge — much bigger than for the 2G iPhone from 2007.

        HTC produces 3G/4G phones with metal backs and plastic insets, but those are huge in physical sizes.

        If Apple would try to apply this scheme to small iPhone, then such plastic inset would cover like half of iPhone’s back. Jobs did not want this, so he had to use glass.

        1. Interesting. I wonder why on earth did Apple want consumer electronics exclusivity for this material then; it’s a mystery. Whatever it is, they really don’t want competitors using it.

          1. I’ve heard that its arrangement of more atoms in less space allows for higher electron density, so… perhaps more battery capacity in the same space?

      1. I’m with you, Mr. 3I3c1something.
        I’m amused by people who value their comment at 2 cents, and type it out in the most ungainly way possible when it’s easy just to use a ¢.
        Unless the ¢ symbol does not work online.

  2. Have you ever wondered what kind of metal surrounds the phone now? That stuff already being used as antennas, it must be the battery that gives the phone all of it’s weight with both sides removed.

  3. I don’t really care if the iPhone 5 (or whatever they’ll call it) is thin. I have an iPod Touch and I think it’s too thin. More room for the battery sounds good though. Personally I liked the feel of the 2G iPhone best. It just fit the hand nicely. At least it did for me. I have the 4S and it’s a bit uncomfortable to hold. Different strokes. I’ll gladly pay to upgrade to the 5 if it has enough features but I haven’t heard of anything new, except 4G, that seems compelling. We’ll see in October. I would like a larger screen. And I think that is a given.

  4. If the author knows, “In 2010, Apple purchased worldwide exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal in its products for around $20 million.”, why would he write, “Liquidmetal has been used in various consumer electronics and gadgets by now due to its special properties: it’s very durable, it has the lightness of plastic, it’s scratch resistant and smooth to the touch. “?
    Apple’s licensing agreement grants Apple exclusive use in consumer electronics. So far, Apple has only released a SIM ejection tool made from Liquidmetal.

    1. That’s what Samsung would do anyway! (which would suck) Apple will figure out a way to look good, be durable, and still perform well. That’s what they do.

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