What if the iPhone 5 got larger… and smaller?

iPhone 5 Design Ideas

There’s been a lot of speculation over the last few months that Apple will begin to shift the sizes of their two most successful products, the iPhone and the iPad. Some of this speculation is pretty crazy, some of it makes you wonder.

I was recently reading this post from Zach Weigand about the possibility of increasing the size of the iPhone’s screen. He (and I) both agree that it’s not necessary at all to increase the size of the screen, that it’s fine the way it is and it makes sense ergonomically with the size of the average human hand. His post (and this post) are more like an issue of Marvel’s What If…?, thinking about what is possible. Zach’s article is highly technical. My post is wondering about the evolution from a design side.

In my opinion, the design of the iPhone 4 is perfect. This post actually feels kind of blasphemous, who am I to say what Jonny Ive has done needs to change? Well, that’s the fun of the Internet. What I would say about the design of the iPhone could be trimmed up a bit at the top and bottom. There are lots of important pieces inside the phone, which is a part of why that space is there. But that won’t always be the case.

You can see in my concepts above (see a MUCH larger version by clicking here) that I’ve got a couple of ideas. The first is the ultra-simplified version, the second is a bit truer to the current design, and the third is the current version of the iPhone 4S. We’ll start at the top and work our way down.

No More Speaker
In the first version I ripped out the speaker and light sensor as we know it and replaced it with micro-perforation which could potentially be lasered straight through the glass. If you look in the larger version you can barely see them. This allows the camera to be elegantly placed in the center.

There’s No Going Home
I removed the home button altogether. The home button is such an integral part of the experience with the iPhone I’m not sure if this is even possible. My thinking is though that a physical button may not always be a good idea, and Apple may figure out a way to do without it to shrink down the physical size of the device. They’ve already included gestures on the iPad to replace the function of the home button, so why not do the same on the iPhone?

A Place To Rest
I still think it’s important to have the physical space at the top and bottom of the phone. If you were to remove it altogether you’d have no safe place to rest your hands. Pushing the limits of how small that area could be is interesting to think about.

Larger But Smaller
You may have noticed that the first two images have larger screens. They maintain the same width of the current iPhone, but the screens have stretched proportionally to fill the front of the iPhone more. I think what you end up with, and what the first image illustrates really well, is that if you decrease the physical device and increase the screen just slightly you end up with a device that ends up looking larger without changing the width of the device at all.

I’m not sure if something like this is feasible right now, no one does except some really smart folks at Apple, but it’s fun to think about. However perfect the iPhone seems now there will be an evolution to the product and it will change over time. Maybe it’ll be something like this?

Bobby Solomon

May 6, 2012 / By