A new report posted by Joshua Topolsky at This Is My Next seems to contradict the rumors we've been hearing in the past weeks in describing the next-generation iPhone -- so far dubbed iPhone 5 -- as a complete redesign of the existing iPhone 4 hardware. The report comes with a mockup based on sketches and descriptions the website received by multiple sources over the past weeks, and shows a dramatically thinner device with a "thick to thin" design from top to bottom similar to MacBook Air's main body, and a larger multitouch display set at approximately 3.7 inches. The change in size would allow Apple to keep the existing Retina Display branding with a drop to 312ppi (iPhone 4 features 326ppi, and Apple claims a "Retina Display" can be called so starting at 300ppi on an iPhone), and it's something that's been rumored before and even spotted in allegedly leaked Apple design documents.
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).
This Is My Next also claims the Home button will become larger, doubling as a "gesture area" for a series of multitouch commands likely inspired by the ones introduced in the iOS 4.3 developer betas. Apple was rumored to be considering an early departure for the Home button, but the website claims the company has been playing around with various prototypes and design iterations, and one of them indeed sports a larger, redesigned version of the Home button. With a larger, almost edge-to-edge screen, Apple is apparently also experimenting with the idea of earpieces and sensors hidden directly behind the display's glass:
Furthermore, we’re hearing that the screen on the device will occupy the entire (or near to it) front of the phone, meaning almost no bezel. Our source says the company is doing very “interesting things” with bonded glass technology, and has been exploring designs where the earpiece and sensors are somehow behind the screen itself, making for a device where the display is actually edge-to-edge.
Other details reported by This Is My Next include a "swipe area" for NFC capabilities, inductive charging and world-phone functionality with a global CDMA-GSM chipset. Again, these features have been in the rumor mill before, but This Is My Next's report is mostly interesting because of the design speculation included in the article that contradicts several rumors we've recently heard. And even if the design may never make it to the final version of the iPhone 5, TIMN says it's being tested by Apple:
The versions of devices our sources are seeing could be design prototypes and not production-ready phones. Still, there are strong indications that Apple will surprise a public that’s expecting a bump more along the lines of the 3G to 3GS — and this is some insight into where those designs might be headed.