Apple has always wanted to make premium grade products which stand out from the crowd due to the quality of their design and construction, with a lot of this being down to the materials that are used.
It is therefore unsurprising to hear the news that the US company has renewed its deal with Liquidmetal in order to secure exclusive access to the high end products that can be produced using its alloy manufacturing techniques.
Liquidmetal has been in Apple`s sights for some time, invented by Dr Atakan Peker and offering the potential for a company to develop mobile phone chassis which are stronger, lighter and more appealing than any currently available alternatives.
However, so far the deal has only resulted in the creation of a single component for an Apple product; namely the tool used to eject the microSIM card tray on the iPhone 3G which launched all the way back in 2008.
Earlier this year Dr Peker was quoted as having said that it would require up to half a billion dollars to actually turn his concept into a material which could be used to produce a full sized chassis that would house a whole smartphone. This investment would lead to a further three years of work to be carried out, which means that anyone hoping for an iPhone 5 to arrive with a Liquidmetal body is likely to be disappointed.
Apple`s latest deal with Liquidmetal will see it retain exclusive rights to the material until 2014, so hopefully by this point we will have seen a number of devices integrating it into their design.
While the iPhone 5 may not feature Liquidmetal when it arrives in the autumn, most users will be hoping that Apple addresses the issues with physical robustness which have plagued the range since the iPhone 4 arrived in 2010.
The use of glass on the front and rear of the iPhone 4 and 4S makes it look sleek and stylish, but also makes it particularly susceptible to scratches, smashing and shattering when dropped, scraped or bumped.
Apple is expected to increase the display area available on an iPhone with its sixth iteration, perhaps up to four inches or more from the current 3.5 inch diagonal measurement. This in turn will likely lead to a change in the design of the chassis, perhaps one which moves away from the flat-backed iPhone 4S design towards a more curved, metallic alternative that harks back to the first three iPhone models.
HTC mobile phones have been leading the way when it comes to unibody metallic shells on high end smartphones. Meanwhile rival Samsung has been ploughing its own furrow with the Galaxy S range, largely relying on plastic bodies that feel a little cheaper than the alternatives but house some of the top tech around to make them appealing. Apple will veer more towards the former than the latter with the iPhone 5, if past releases are any indication.
Image courtesy of Ricky Romero on Flickr.