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August 16, 2012

What the next iPhone is going to look like

The new iPhone looks pretty much like the old iPhone. Sure, it's a bit taller, allowing for a display that has one extra row of icons on the Home screen. And instead of the glass that you find on the back of today's iPhone, the new model's posterior is composed mainly of some kind of metal — either stainless steel or aluminum that has been polished and, in the case of the black version, treated by a chemical process to turn it a dark, matte gray. (On the white model, the metal on the back looks untreated.)

The other difference is the dock connector — instead of the inch-wide plug that Apple has placed on almost every iPod, iPhone and iPad since 2003, the new iPhone will inaugurate a new, tiny plug that we'll presumably find on all of Apple's other devices, too. Finally, and strangely, the headphone jack is now on the bottom of the phone, rather than the top.

But that's it. When CEO Tim Cook announces the next iPhone sometime next month, industrial designers and Apple obsessives are going to scrutinize all of the changes, but I bet ordinary users won't look twice. The iPhone's design touchstones — the Home button, the wide top and bottom bezel surrounding the screen, the just-perfect width — are all there on the new model. The volume buttons and the mute switch are also unchanged. If you were to give the new phone to folks who don't follow the tech industry closely, your respondents would recognize the thing as an iPhone — not the "new iPhone," not the "iPhone 5," not the best iPhone yet, but just the iPhone.

And that, I think, explains why we know all this stuff about the new iPhone in the first place. Over the last few months, 9To5Mac.com, iLabFactory and other blogs that follow Apple obsessively have posted a string of images of parts from the new phone. Not only have we seen top, bottom and side views of the iPhone, but we've also seen several pictures of its components — the motherboard, the battery, the dock connector — and even some videos, too.

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