Rumor: next iPhone will be machined from Liquidmetal and launch at WWDC

A new report out of South Korea alleges that Apple will be launching a sixth-generation iPhone at its annual developers conference this summer, likely taking place between June 11-15.

The phone is said to be a complete overhaul of the existing iPhone, with the biggest design feature being the use of the patented Liquidmetal amorphous alloy, presumably for its shell.

As you know, Apple obtained exclusive worldwide rights to use this zirconium-based alloy in consumer electronics products from Liquidmetal Technologies’  in August of 2010.

They already tested the substance with the SIM ejector tool that shipped with the iPhone 3G, but thus far the company did not switch its aluminum-based gadgets to Liquidmetal…

Both Samsung and Apple are apparently experimenting with new materials for their upcoming phones, but only Apple can use the amorphous Liquidmetal alloy in consumer electronics products.

ETNews has the story:

According to industry sources, the next flagship phones of the companies are expected to adopt unprecedented materials for their main bodies, that is, ceramic for the Galaxy S3 and liquid metal for iPhone5, both being thin, light and highly resistant to external impacts. In the meantime, iPhone5 is likely to take liquid metal, an alloy of zirconium, titanium, nickel, copper and so forth having an outer surface smooth like liquid. The new iPhone is expected to make its debut at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco in June.

It’s interesting that Liquidmetal Technologies last month said it began shipping commercial parts of the new metallic glass alloy to unnamed customers around the world. According to a press release, “parts delivery began this past December with continuing shipments scheduled for the months ahead”.

Apple was also spotted hiring Liquidmetal engineers, including Amorphous Metal Development Manager, Metal Process Development Engineer and Amorphous Metal Development Engineer.

The amorphous Liquidmetal alloy is made from zirconium, titanium, nickel, copper and other materials. It has smooth appearance akin to liquid (hence the name) that allows for stronger, lighter and more corrosion-resistant parts.

It also features twice the strength of Titanium and the processability of plastics, while storing energy much better than stainless steel or Titanium. Even better, metallic glass can be easily machined into more complex shapes than either Titanium or aluminum.


The Rancho Santa Margarita, California-based Liquidmetal Technologies says these amorphous alloys are:

unique materials that are distinguished by their ability to retain a random structure when they solidify, in contrast to the crystalline atomic structure that forms in ordinary metals and alloys. Liquidmetal Technologies is the first company to produce amorphous alloys in commercially viable bulk form, enabling significant improvements in products across a wide array of industries.

Omega also experimented with the use of Liquidmetal. A year ago they showed off a new kind of bezel that blended Liquidmetal with ceramics, as seen in the below clip.


The Commerical Times reported in February that the iPhone 5 – or whatever it ends up being called (most likely “the new iPhone”) – will debut at WWDC this summer.

However, the usually accurate Japanese blog Macotakara has called for a Fall launch.

Apple unveiled the current iPhone 4S on October 4 of last year.

Does the iPhone 5 made from metallic glass sound like something you’d prefer over the existing glass and metal design of the iPhone 4/4S?