Jul 14 2014, 1:40am CDT | by Forbes
Despite my complaint last week about the inelegant treatment of the antenna setup in the iPhone 6 dummies that have been circulating, more renderings and supposed leaked parts keep showing the outlined bumper. A nice set of renders by designer Mark Pelin might convince you that these black outlines could really be a Jony Ive design, but after you watch the video by designer Sahanan Yogarasa of ConceptsiPhone you may be more convinced that there are more elegant (and Ive-like) ways for Apple to handle the need for antenna reception cutouts in the metal backplate of the iPhone 6.
Yogarasa’s 3D render is, of course, no more proof of what the next iPhone will look like than the casemaker’s dummies, but I vote for the imaginative interpretation over the literal expression. Whatever the provenance of the dummies and the schematic that showed the antenna setup in bold red lines on which they seem to be based, those lines were likely intended as explanatory, as in don’t use a material in your case that block antenna reception in this area. The idea of there being two channels of a glass material dividing the back panel both looks like an Ive design solution and relates to recent Apple patents (including this one involving liquidmetal ) that allow different materials to be fused together seamlessly.
In a related development, an Apple patent was just approved for a method of fusing glass elements together to completely encase electronic components. And one of the names on the patent is Jony Ive. So we know that Ive has his head in these kinds of material fusions and we think we know, from the leaked antenna layout schematics, that some reception channels are necessary in the iPhone 6 backplate. Whit those two data points in mind, Yogarasa’s design concept seems plausible.
Yogarasa goes a step further and uses the same glass material for the rumored logo cutout on the backplate. He stops short of suggesting (as some Apple-watchers have) that this logo might light up like the tops of Apple laptops. It is intriguing to think about what function some form of backplate illumination might have. Nearby find-my-iPhone, perhaps?
As tasteful as these renders are, Yogarasa’s previous work has demonstrated an uneven design sensibility. Compared the Apple Fantasy Prototype League (#AFPL) all-star Martin Hajek , for instance, whose concepts always succeed at looking Apple-like, Yogarasa is more uneven. A recent iWatch prototype is large and far too complex to be an actual Apple solution. What is notable in this current iPhone 6 render is the sense of restraint. The glass elements are the only divergence from all of the other iPhone prototypes out there.
The simplicity of the design is also aided by the thinness of the screen that just protrudes above the side profile of the device. In truth, the same manufacturing technology that would enable the seamless glass inserts on the back panel could enable the screen to flow smoothly into the sides on the edges, as well. I would look for a rendering showing that coming out of the AFPL soon!
One further detail that Yogarasa demonstrated in an earlier version of the video (now removed from YouTube for some reason) was the addition of a fourth color in the “premium” iPhone line. He is suggesting that instead of having the equivalent of an “S’ and a “C” line, Apple would take a bright color (one of the colors not used in the “C” line) for those who want more pop with their phones. Not surprising that he didn’t choose yellow. Investors.com pronounced Apple’s yellow iPhone 5C to be a “lemon,” “Roughly equal numbers of consumers bought the other colors of the new midrange iPhone 5C handset, but they turned up their noses at the yellow model. The most popular color for the plastic-backed device is blue, which was picked by 27% of buyers, followed by white (25%), green (21%) and pink (20%).
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