New photos depicting Foxconn molds destined for the iPhone 6 have emerged corroborating a previous leak and potentially confirming Apple’s plans to have a bigger iPhone deployed this year.
According to Steve Hemmerstoffer of Nowhereelse.fr, “Some of the holes that were drilled into the block in fact serve to fix the inserts which will form a crude which is then machined housing (finishes) using a CNC milling machine.”
Aided by the comparison iPhone 4S placed next to the mold, the dimensions suggest that the hardware will be used to machine the case of a larger iPhone, seemingly the rumored 4.7-inch model. This is the second leak of its kind. The hardware looks identical, in what would confirm that the former was also legitimate.
The leaked photos, however, suggest that Apple will most likely stick with aluminum for the case of its next-generation iPhone. Aluminum has been the company’s top choice for various device enclosures, but this time around people were expecting a more exotic refresh.
The Cupertino giant is known to have acquired rights to use a space-age material known as Liquidmetal, which has the properties of steel, glass, and plastic, all with a high strength-to-weight ratio.
It appears that Apple is still not ready to employ the amorphous metal alloy for the manufacturing of entire device casings, as machining or milling are not techniques used to handle this material. Instead, Liquidmetal is heated to the point where it behaves like plastic, and is then stretched, twisted, and bent until the desired form is achieved. Lastly, the metal is cooled and left to solidify.
The machinery shown in these images would not be suitable for creating Liquidmetal casings. Therefore, if this is a real iPhone manufacturing machine, the next-generation model will most likely be made from aluminum. The iPhone 6 would be Apple’s fourth model made with an aluminum enclosure.
Some rumors have suggested that Apple could put sheets of sapphire crystal on both sides of the phone, something that would also explain the company’s efforts to produce such copious quantities of sapphire at its Mesa, Arizona factory.
The leaks also seem to have started early this year. If the Cupertino giant wants to continue with its autumn refresh cycle, then such leaks shouldn’t have occurred for another two months or so. Therefore, we also speculate it might just be possible for Apple to have already entered production with the iPhone 6 for an unveiling at WWDC14 in June.