Why the iPhone 5 Needs to Be a Redesign

I’ve been buying new iPhones on launch day since the iPhone 3G, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. But in my purchasing time, I’ve bought two phones that looked pretty much identical, and one that really stood out from the crowd. For this next iPhone – what I assume will be called the iPhone 5 – I need something different than the Leica-esque look of the iPhone 4. And I think we all do too.

Why? The iPhone 4, despite its faults, has been hugely popular for Apple since day one. Why fix what isn’t broke? Well there are a few reasons, and I’ll get into them after the jump.

The Early Adopter

I’m the guy who sits in line on launch day to get his new iPhone, then walks away, very proud of my purchase. The moment I put it up to my ear, I want people looking at the phone to know that I have the latest gadget. I’ve got the new iPhone, not the same one everyone else is carrying around. I’m on the cutting edge, and I’m proud of my early adopter status.

But because people keep their iPhones for so long, it’s not surprising to see an iPhone 3G still out on the streets. If my phone looks like theirs, then I’m not considered to be hip and trendy or cool. I’m just another guy with an iPhone, and that’s not my bag.

Point is, in a perfect world each successive generation of iPhone would stand out from the one before it. That way, the early adopters can stand out from those that either keep their phones longer or who don’t need the latest Apple product.

That Whole Antenna Thing

Like it or not, Antennagate ruled the iPhone 4’s world at the start, and even though Apple ended up selling a bazillion iPhones, there’s no telling how many customers that cost them. Even though it’s not that big of an issue, it’s still an issue, and I guarantee that if the iPhone stays with the same body the press will be all over it. “Look, the iPhone 5 has the same antenna issues as the last one,” and so on. Last time, people were talking about recalls, so let’s just not push the issue here any further. Change the design and put the antenna back in the case.


I don’t know about you, but I’m scared to drop my iPhone. I’ve always been the guy who handles his phone pretty carefully, but that glass front and back scares the bejeezus out of me. It’s glass, after all, and no matter what kind of gorilla it’s made from, it can break if dropped just the right way. So in my book, the glass has got to go, and don’t go with plastic because it’s not a better option. My 3GS cracked like everyone else’s, and it seems to me like if Apple went with something metal and different, we might be able to get a really cool phone in the process. Now I have no real alternatives here, but I do think that it needs some kind of major change so that it’s less fragile than it is presently.

That Fresh Gadget Feeling

Before the iPhone, I used to buy the same type of cell phone every time. There wasn’t anything particularly interesting about the phones, but they followed a trend for years at a time. First it was flip phones, then the candybar shape, then the candybar shape with a keyboard (be it sliding or otherwise) until we came to 2008 when I bought my iPhone 3G. I’ve had the same basic iPhone for a few years now — let’s do something different.

I’m not saying to do a flip or anything with a slide-out keyboard, because I think we all can agree that’s not quite the best path. But even just putting a slight arc in the face or curving the top or bottom would be enough for me, as long as it’s tweaked just a little. All of the renderings I’ve seen have a cool aluminum back and a wedge shape to the phone which almost echoes the MacBook Air. Something like that would be perfect, I do think the iPhone 4 was a step above the 3GS and previous iPhones, and it had just enough of a tweak in it to make it seem new and unique. That’s all I’m asking for: Just a little step outside of the iPhone 4’s boundaries, that’s all.


I hope when the iPhone 5 comes out we will see something different. So far, the bets have been on a solid redesign, and I still hope that’s the case. What I think may be more likely is that the iPhone 4 just gets tuned up a little bit, then released into the wild, just like the iPhone 3G and 3GS (and to a lesser extent, the original iPhone) were very similar looking products. Maybe they put a matte finish on the backside, or coat the stainless strip in some kind of color, but I’m 50/50 that it’ll be a full redesign.

That said, it needs to be new. Let’s hope that it is.