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Friday, April 22, 2011, 05:30 pm PT (08:30 pm ET)

iPhone 5 a 'major redesign' with multi-touch button, 3.7-inch screen [Updated]

A new report claims recent rumors of a minor revision to Apple's next-generation iPhone are inaccurate, positing instead that Apple will completely redesign the handset to possibly include a "gesture area" home button and a 3.7-inch edge-to-edge screen [Update: This report has since been deemed inaccurate].

In a highly speculative report, Joshua Topolsky of This is my next claimed Friday that sources have told him that the iPhone 5 will "radically change." The report comes as a follow-up to a previous report that he wrote while serving as Editor in Chief at technology blog Engadget.

It should be noted, however, that Topolsky's sources should be taken with a grain of salt, as his prior report claimed that the iPad 2 would launch in April with a "super high resolution" display, SD slot and dual mode GSM and CDMA 3G radios. Prior to the launch of the iPad 2, Engadget changed its predictions, citing engineering issues that led Apple to make last-minute changes to the device.

Update: In addition to the initial skepticism surrounding this report, at least one trusted publication has gone on record to state that the claims made by Topolsky are not true.

According to Friday's report, the home button on the iPhone 5 will be enlarged and will perform double duty as a "gesture area." Sources also indicated that Apple is doing very "interesting things" with bonded glass technology and could push the edges of the screen all the way out to the edge, moving the earpiece and sensors "behind the screen itself."

The report also claimed that Apple would increase the iPhone screen size from its current 3.5-inch display to a 3.7-inch one, while keeping the current resolution. The change would reduce the device's pixel density from 326 pixels-per-inch to 312ppi, though it would still remain above the 300ppi "sweet spot" that Apple uses to claim "Retina Display" technology.

"Our sources say the new model (or at least one of the new designs in testing) looks “more like the iPod touch than the iPhone 4.” The phone will be thinner than the iPhone 4, and may have a “teardrop” shape which goes from thick to thin (something along the lines of the MacBook Air profile)," Topolsky wrote.

Topolsky also claimed that art he had been shown seemed to indicate "some form of inductive or touch charging," but cautioned that sources were unable to confirm whether Apple was planning the feature. He speculated that a "swipe area" seen in drawings could be for a Near Field Communication sensor and reiterated his prior claim that the iPhone 5 will take advantage of Qualcomm's dual GSM/ CDMA Gobi chipset to make the device a "world phone."

The report included a mockup based on a sketch supplied by a source. A side view of the mockup depicts the tapered "teardrop shape."

iPhone 5 mockup


Topolsky himself couched the report as unverified. "Keep in mind that this info isn’t fact — we’re getting lots of threads from lots of places and trying to make sense of the noise," he said. "The versions of devices our sources are seeing could be design prototypes and not production-ready phones."

It should also be noted that the report goes against the grain of other recent reports. Numerous reports have suggested lately that the iPhone 5 has been pushed back to a fall release and will feature only "slight modifications," such as the inclusion of the A5 processor and an 8 megapixel rear camera.

For instance, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, whose supplier sources have been mostly accurate as of late, indicated earlier this week that the iPhone 5 will not feature an all-new-design.