While Apple will likely offer yet another incremental upgrade on the iPhone 6 later his year when it releases the hardly anticipated iPhone 7, a leak along the company’s supply chain has revealed that one big change for next year’s iPhone (either the 7S or 8) is that it will have an “all glass” body.
Allen Horng, chairman and CEO of Catcher Technology, responsible for creating the body of Apple’s iPhones, let slip at his company’s annual shareholder meeting that Apple’s iPhone release in 2017 will sport a glass casing, confirming a rumour that we had heard from Apple insiders several months ago, one that was initially met with scepticism and derision.
The chassis change is expected to go well beyond the glass backing we’ve seen with other previous iPhone iterations, and likely rival what we’re currently seeing with Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note models. What that means, of course, is that even when Apple’s tries to revolutionize its product line with a fresh face, it’s ultimately still playing catch-up with a mobile industry that has, by and large, left it behind.
According to Horng, the process of upgrading the iPhone to an all glass casing is a difficult one, requiring “advanced processing technology” to make it happen. He added that producing such an iPhone would require a metal support structure to reinforce the glass body.
“As far as I know, only one [iPhone] model will adopt glass casing next year,” Horng told reporters, according to Nikkei, which was in attendance at the event. “I don’t think this move will have an impact on Catcher’s revenue as glass casing still needs a durable metal frame which requires advanced processing technology and would not be cheaper than the current model.”
The bad news there, if Horng’s comments are accurate, is that only one iPhone will be equipped with a glass body, and for some analysts that phone will likely be the iPhone 8 Plus, now expected in 2017 due to the fact that Apple is rumoured to skip any additional iPhone 7 devices that year in order to celebrate the iPhone’s 10th anniversary.
In fact, analysts are speculating that in addition to the glass body, Apple could also introduce a curved screen iPhone as well, part of the company’s plan to make as big a splash as possible (while doing as little as possible).
While changing the look and feel of the iPhone will likely be enough for many Apple fans, I have to think that altering the form factor isn’t enough to bring any sort of ‘wow’ factor back to the Cupertino firm. What the company needs is radical innovation, something we haven’t seen before, not delivering an all glass chassis that we’ve seen on several competitor’s smartphones already.
Not only that, but it seems Apple has doubled downed on the disappointing news, for although this news will surely generate some excitement about what’s to come, we still have an iPhone 7 to sit through, a device that now looks that much more disappointing compared to what’s coming after.