Rumors of a new iPhone 5 design offered a step back in time today as it is being suggested that a complete redesign of the iPhone will result in the iPhone 5 having a aluminium rear panel and internal antenna assembly (GadgetsDNA via MacRumors). According to the report, a redesigned antenna would be hidden behind the Apple logo in a body design that is inspired by the iPod Touch. The back panel would apparently be constructed of alumium to minimize scratching.
There are several parts to this story that, while interesting, may prove to debunk this rumor entirely. While the original iPhone 2G had a brushed aluminium back panel exterior, Apple had to include a plastic panel at the bottom of the device as the alumium would tend to block wireless signals. Given the overinflated furore over the iPhone 4 antenna, Apple would likely not revert to a design that would hamper or reduce cellular reception rather than improving it.
However, for the moment, we can hypothesize how it would be accomplished. The report suggests that Apple would aim to hide the antenna assembly behind the logo on the rear of the device. If this was the case, then it is likely that the logo would have to be a little larger than it currently is now, perhaps similar in size to that of the iPad. An antenna behind the Apple logo actually reflects the current design of the Wi-Fi iPad.
Combine this with the fact that generally, when a person is holding a cellphone, most of the rear panel of the device, including the logo, is completely covered with the person’s hand, which is not terribly conducive to high quality cellular reception. However, could a hybrid antenna be used i.e. one which merges the behind-the-logo design and the current generation iPhone 4 antenna?
Sadly, and despite the fact that a brushed aluminum rear panel would look fantastic on the iPhone 5, we’re a little skeptical of this story.