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Analysis: Why Apple’s Next-Gen iPhone Has a Two-Tone Back

Analysis: Why Apple’s Next-Gen iPhone Has a Two-Tone Back

There have been a lot of interesting leaks and rumors regarding Apple’s next-gen iPhone, and you’ve no doubt seen many of the part leaks surrounding the device. Among the more unique and interesting bits are the dual-tone backplate that has surfaced time and time again.

Industrial designer Don Lehman of TheTechBlock (via MacRumors) takes a close look at the leaked next-gen iPhone casings, and offers some interesting thoughts (and a detailed analysis) about what the design might mean, aside from the typical expectations that it will be thinner, lighter, and stronger than previous iPhones.

According to Lehman, the design is likely related to the antenna design for Apple’s next iPhone. Lehman notes how the antenna has evolved over time, noting the differences between the GSM iPhone 4, and the CDMA iPhone 4, the latter of which made its way to the iPhone 4S. A particular point is made about how Apple redesigned the iPhone 4/4S antenna system to account for “antennagate”.

With the iPhone 4S, Apple moved  the antennas to the top and bottom pieces of the steel band around the device, leaving the bits along the side as purely structural. From this, Lehman suggests that Apple is using a similar principle for Apple’s next iPhone – only Apple is taking a unibody approach rather than using a band.

The leaked next-gen iPhone casings feature three pieces of metal rather than four, with two U-shaped pieces at the top and bottom, similar to the iPhone 4S. The side pieces, and the largest section of the next-gen iPhone back panel, however, are made from a single piece ofmetal.

If the casing has fewer pieces, how will Apple be able to pack additional antennas into the device (Apple will presumably add LTE support, and possibly NFC)? The answer, according to Lehman, lies in the two-tone rear shell. Lehman suggests that the “off-colored” portion of the shell in the middle (or alternately, those on the top and bottom) are likely made of a material such as glass or plastic rather than metal, allowing the device to send and receive signals more effectively.

Lehman’s analysis seems to make a lot of sense – the next-gen iPhone’s rear panel being made of both metal and plastic or glass would explain its two-toned appearance, and provides a decent explanation of how Apple has engineered around possible signal issues.

It’s a fascinating idea. Lehman also comments on other aspects of the next-gen iPhone design, and the entire piece is definitely worth reading. I highly recommend heading on over to TheTechBlock and checking it out!