Apple originally used a plastic back for the iPhone, then they switched to a glass backing for the iPhone 4. The glass back coupled with the antenna issues in the iPhone 4 did not bear well for the device, and it appears that Apple is considering using an aluminum back for the iPhone 5.

A report from the Taiwanese Economic Daily News claims that Apple is abandoning the glass backing from the iPhone 5 in favor of a stronger aluminum covering. The source also suggests that Apple’s new antenna will be inside the device’s rear Apple logo…

From the Taiwanese report’s English translation (via GadgetsDNA),

“Decision to design similar to iPod touch instead of using glass is supposed that Apple seems to stop problems which are told widely damages from scratching, difficulties of painting white and weight of glass.”

Antenna will be designed just behind Apple Logo so that cellular and Wi-Fi signal can penetrate easily. Side exposed steel antennas seem to be abandoned, as designed in iPhone 4.”

This report is based off information received from a Chinese manufacturing source. The Economic Daily News hasn’t been 100% reliable in the past, but this new report seems to hold weight in the whirlpool of existing Apple rumors.

The main reason for this design change seems to be a problem with painting the back of the iPhone 4. (Probably the reason we haven’t seen a white one yet.) The glass also adds a significant amount of weight. There has also been an issue with the iPhone 4’s glass back cracking as well (dubbed “Glassgate“).

Aluminum would offer not only a lighter design, but also extra durability.

An aluminum backing on the iPhone 5 would also help unify Apple’s products, since the current iPod Touch, iPad and MacBooks (excluding the base model) all boast aluminum exteriors.

As far as the antenna redesign is concerned, it makes sense that Apple would want to abandon the radical exterior antenna design of the iPhone 4 that has caused them so much trouble. However, a 3G and WiFi antenna behind the device’s Apple logo seems a little off.

What about thick cases? Also, when you hold the phone, your hand would most likely be covering the antenna. Unless Apple has another surprise, this design choice doesn’t seem optimal. (It is worth noting that the iPad’s WiFi antenna exists behind the Apple logo, so this isn’t a totally new concept for Apple to implement.)

The iPhone 5 will most likely be introduced at WWDC this summer. Check out our iPhone 5 Rumor Roundup for more speculation on the device.

Would you like Apple to go with an aluminum back for the iPhone 5? What about the concept of the antenna being behind the Apple logo?

[via MacRumors and 9to5 Mac]

  • brent

    If I’m not mistaken, Apple used aluminum for the back of the original iphone. Plastic came with the 3G. Why would having the antenna on the upper inside part of the phone be a bad idea? I imagine a thick case would affect it no matter where inside the phone the antenna was. Actually, considering some cases have a hole for the Apple logo that could potentially be the ideal location for the antenna.

    • soccerkrzy

      A case doesn’t affect the antenna.

      • brent

        I think you’re right…what I meant was that IF a case were to affect the antenna, it probably wouldn’t matter where the antenna is located in the phone. I don’t think it’s likely that a case could affect signal, but I’m sure it’s possible if it’s thick enough and made out of something weird.

      • Superior thinking demontstread above. Thanks!

  • Ed

    That’s exactly where I place my index finger while having a call, hope this doesn’t mess with the signal and makes Apple go “you’re holding it wrong” again!

  • Great news, I don’t think my iPhone 4 could take anymore damage!

  • six4seven

    Yeah, i figured the iPhone 5 design would resemble the 4th gen iPod touch. The iPod touch 4 is soooo thin and comfortable to hold in the hand than the iPhone 4.

    I hope it is thinner than the iPhone 4 too!

  • If I’m not mistaken the issues with the white iPhone 4 and its paint resides within the front pane of glass and light seeping out from the back light from the LCD display. Not the back Pane of glass.
    Something seems off with this mock-up of the new iPhone 5. I don’t think they’d do away with the flash led on the back. Also I really don’t see them going back to the aluminum although I do think that the internal antenna design might become a reality.

  • um..the original iPhone (iPhone 2G) had an aluminium backplate..plastic was with the 3G

  • iXanczy

    Great idea to put the antenna in the logo, but I hope Apple will hold on to the glass backplate because it looks just greate 🙂

  • MrA

    “Apple originally used a plastic back for the iPhone”.

    Incorrect. Come on iDB you’re better than that. Correct the error in the article please. Embarrassing.

  • Xepptizz

    Am I the only one who totally diggs the post apoc look of that shattered iphone?

  • gabeapp

    umm question…. why would apple get rid of the flash?

  • Mo

    I like the look and feel of the glass. It feels like you’re holding a luxury item in your hand. All the android phones use cheap plastic and it feels cheap to hold it too. I really like the design of the current iPhone and I hope they keep the design the same. Just give me a bigger screen!

    • Lrwp

      I agree I really like the design of the iPhone 4 and I think they should only change the screen size by a small amount otherwise it might be to big and chunky.

  • lemoon

    The iPhone 4 is my first iPhone, and while I love the tech specs on it and enjoyable with iFunia video converter on the fly trip, I find myself appreciating the feel of the 3Gs. The glass back is a bit of a pain…I’m so caution it’s ridiculous. So if Apple decides to loose the brick look for a more sleek curved design, and it comes with an aluminum back them I’m all for it.

  • Z

    This would make sense, as it looks very similar to the iPad2 design.

    The antenna should definitely be placed some place else so we don’t have to deal with “you’re holding your iPhone incorrectly” bs.

    On top of that, iPhone 4 is a beautiful device but comes out to be a very luxurious piece of equipment you need to dust off with feathers. If you compare the display of iPhone 4 and 3GS – iPhone 4 glass edges are coming out too far, making it a more fragile phone as opposed to iPhone 3GS. So we are definitely going to see some changes there.

    Back cover? Hmm think about it, they need to maintain the iPhone 4 sales. Sonic they make a device looking very similar to that, bye bye iPhone 4 sales. So they have to make something new out of it. Some people like luxury and fragilty, some like durability.

    I go with durability – hooray iPhone 5! When are you gonna hit the market? =)

    P.S.: happy international womens’ day, ladies of iDB! (readers and associates)

  • My 3GS is beat up, but nothing like the photo above. Mainly cracked around the charging port. I’ll be glad to have a more durable back.

  • Jason Madison

    Hot in the summer and cool in the winter.

  • lewisbey

    The aluminum back on the iPhone 2g dented to easily. hope the 5 doesn’t get the same one.

  • Jedoonat

    You know what? How bout using some thing like a aluminum/titanium alloy? Then, coat the metal with that Auto Butler stuff that they use on cars to make it scratch resistant. I personally would like to have the metal back. Though, having a case on your iPhone is essential for max protection of your investment.

  • sammya

    I don’t like the design at all. The iPhone 4 was so refreshing, compared to the original, 3G and 3GS iPhones. Why go back in time and make the iPhone 5 look like the older models?! Also, the aluminum back plate makes the phone look cheaper, hence more attractive to kids and less to business people. I really hope Apple is not going to make that mistake. I was waiting for the iPhone 5 to upgrade from my 3G, but if this is what it’ll look like, I’d rather buy the iPhone 4 (hell, the white one might even be available by then).

  • jonathan

    i hope it comes to sprint i like the iphone 5

  • xcell

    I will wait 10 hours in line for that design.

  • xcell

    The first iphone used a stamped-out aluminum shell (very thin and soft), with a lower 1/8 portion made of plastic for the antenna. Apple has recently switched to CNC’ed aluminum bodies from solid blocks of aluminum. Very rigid and strong. It will feel like the current macbook pros. With the smaller iphone size, CNC’ed body would feel a solid block.

    This mock-up is a very probable design. It matches the rest of Apple’s current products.

  • will you send me a free one please!

  • Gabe

    I came up with an great idea for a back that’ll keep the great look of the glass back(which is cool) and wouldnt brake and chipp as easily, why dont they use some type of pexiglass for the back? And if you’ll like the aluminum back plus the somewhat extra strength, but aluminum under the pexi glass…. Im just sayn

  • Eazy E

    Is proper grammar and spelling really so difficult? Break not BRAKE, chip not CHIPP. Plexiglass is VERY soft and scratches easily, so it would make a poor covering.