Early this week, the latest in a long line of Apple iPhone 5 rumors appeared online. This time around, it’s pictures of a Chinese iPhone 5 clone — not an authentic Apple design, reports Giz-China, which first published photos and video of the device. Now, I haven’t a clue whether this handset at all resembles what Apple plans to release. I can, however, guarantee one thing: If this is what the next iPhone looks like, I’m not buying one.
There is absolutely nothing spectacular about this phone, not a single design feature that distinguishes it from the bulging, monotonous hoard of Android devices now available, save the Apple logo on the back. It is not the future of smartphone design, as all Apple’s previous iPhone iterations have been. It is not even the present — I’ve seen a variety of mock-up designs that are vastly better. Even the current iPhone 4 is more aesthetically pleasing. The nicest thing I can say is that this forgery looks to me like a near-duplicate of the original iPhone, the dinosaur that arrived back in 2007 and has long since gone extinct.
Sure, this version might have a slightly thinner profile, lighter build and more curves than the iPhone 4 — but it’s nothing to lust over. It doesn’t have me salivating, or calculating how much I’ll have to save up each week to afford it when the phone finally hits shelves. The bezels on the top and bottom of the phone’s face are too large; the screen, too small. And the side buttons look like that of the iPhone 3G, only less elegant.
Of course, looks aren’t everything. The next iPhone will allegedly come loaded with the super-fast A5 processor, which currently powers the iPad 2. It’s also supposed to have a far better camera, and will surely run all the impressive features of the upcoming iOS 5 operating system better than any other device in Apple’s lineup.
These predictable upgrades are not nearly enough, however, for me to lay down the hundreds of dollars it will certainly cost to snag the next iPhone, just as I wouldn’t spend the money on a device that was improved on the outside, but filled with inferior components.
Now that I’ve got all that bickering out of my system, I must say that I highly doubt the iPhone 5 (or iPhone 4S, or whatever other imaginary name we’re calling it these days) will look anything like the handset in the picture. Why? First, because there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that this is anywhere close to the design of the next iPhone. Yes, it reportedly fits the new cases that have been popping up. But so what? Maybe those cases were made for this crappy knockoff. And second, because of all the design flaws I’ve already listed above. I can’t image Apple, which puts cutting edge design ahead of almost everything else, would release such a misshapen product.
In fact, the only presumption that makes this leak plausible is that, because the next iPhone is (or will be) produced in China, this Chinese counterfeit has the possibility of being based off of the real iPhone 5.
“Given that the iPhone 5 is probably being churned out of the factories as we speak—either in limited production runs or ramping up—I wouldn’t be surprised if someone got a prototype and sold it to some enterprising pirate company,” writes Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz about the “iPhoney.”
So, at best, the device in these pictures is merely a replica, a poor recreation. The almost imperceptible tweaks and details that Apple’s superior designers consistently manage to include in their products were lost in translation somewhere along the dark alley where these rip-offs are produced.
Of course, Diaz’s conjecture is perfectly credible in the Apple rumor mill — indeed, it is the Apple rumor mill. We’re all part of it, me and you included, because we love to imagine what Apple might have in store for us. Apple sells dreams, remember, not just gadgets. Whoever dreamed up this spurious design, however, apparently wasn’t trying particularly hard.
Come fall, when many believe Apple will unveil the fifth-generation iPhone, I predict that Apple will release something just as impressively stylish as it always has, a device you can’t take your eyes off of and never want to set down. Perhaps some of you think this design matches that description perfectly. But I, for one, expect something better.