iPhone 5 was unveiled amid few surprises and became the most leaked iPhone ever, even surpassing the “lost in a bar” iPhone 4. Unibody housing, two-tone metal backplate, taller screen were among features widely discussed prior to the official release. Ironically, most of these leaks came out after CEO Mr. Cook made the now-famous statement “double down on secrecy” .
There was one surprise for me. iPhone 5 looks much more beautiful than hastily assembled iPhone 5 in leaked pictures. I earlier commented on the “leaked” unibody design and said the following: “…The beauty of iPhone 5 design will hinge upon its execution, and specifically on how the seams between different materials (e.g. metal/glass) are finished and managed. Looking at the leaked pictures, the seams were not finished and refined to the standards that I expect from Apple…”
When I saw the official pictures of iPhone 5 on Apple website, my first reaction was that Apple employed some celebrity Photoshop artists or got help from fellows at Pixar, who make “flowing water” look more realistic than in real life. The precision in the execution, that is the seams and finish of multi-material housing looked unreal to me. Apple proudly compared iPhone 5 precision to a “finely crafted watch”. Well, the fit and finish of iPhone 5 would even make a fine (Swiss) watch jealous.
As I scanned down quickly on the website, I realized that this is a real deal or very close. It will be another day Photoshop artists will be employed by Apple to touch up iPhone 5 pictures. The engineering ingenuity behind this fit and finish of multi-material housing is described in detail to my great surprise. 29MP cameras are taking high-resolution images of aluminum housing and then matching it to the most precise glass inlay selected from out of 725 unique inlays. This is a great example of engineering ingenuity combined with top-notch assembly and supply-chain cooperation. Hats off to Apple!
Meanwhile, I am also surprised that Apple publicly disclosed such engineering details, which could have been kept as a trade secret. I am not sure what percentage of iPhone 5 buyers would appreciate (or care) to know such engineering details in manufacturing and assembly. Fortunately, this disclosure was not stopped by anyone from Apple’s army of IP counsels (who were likely partying given Samsung court victory). Perhaps, Apple realized that there is no trade secret that it can keep after all these leaks on iPhone 5. Or, the product and marketing people still call the shots in Apple, unlike in other large companies where the lawyers rule.
Apparently, there was one surprising element in the release of iPhone 5, which disappointed some folks. After numerous rumors and one rebuttal from yours truly, no Liquidmetal housing showed up in iPhone 5. Who needs the risk of using a new alloy in an iconic product, when one can produce such engineering ingenuity as mentioned above? Maybe there is still a need for a new alloy such as Liquidmetal in iPhone X. This will be topic to another blog in the future.
Gizmodo: This is Apple’s next iPhone
Cnet: Tim Cook Double Down on Secrecy
Apple: iPhone Design
Yahoo Finance: LQMT
Cult Of Mac: iPhone 5 LiquidMetal Rumor
Forbes: Apple iPhone 5 and LiquidMetal Speculation
BusinessInsider: Apple Gadget Corrosion