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Liquidmetal – iPhone 5 – rumor or real?

What is Liquidmetal?

Let’s be clear. Liquidmetal is not mercury (aka quicksilver); Liquidmetal (in a normal state) is not even liquid! So what is it?

Developed by the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), Liquidmetal is a hard wearing solid alloy material that has durable features like high tensile strength, corrosion resistance and anti-wearing. Liquidmetal was introduced in commercial applications in 2003 (e.g. golf clubs and watches).

Liquidmetal is now marketed by a firm called Liquidmetal Technologies, Inc. Back in August of 2010, Liquidmetal Technologies filed a regulatory notice that “…has granted Apple a perpetual, exclusive license to use its technology in consumer electronics.” Of course, Apple has been silent about this topic.

Liquidmetal iPhone

As the world waits for the iPhone 5, there are broad rumors that Apple will incorporate Liquidmetal in its casing. Here are some observations:

  • Liquidmetal matches (and even surpasses) Apple’s sleek, shiny aesthetic qualities, but it is considered outrageously expensive (it has a fair amount of platinum). Since Apple has a hundred billion dollars (no exaggeration) in cash, we suspect that Apple will come up with a mass-production solution to drive down costs and make it more affordable.
  • Liquidmetal is NOT translucent. If you are looking for a more futuristic, translucent (showing off its guts) iPhone 5; don’t expect Liquidmetal.
  • The original strain of Liquidmetal was very hard, making it brittle. However, unconfirmed reports state that the company has now figured out how to make non-brittle varieties while salvaging the hardness. This is quite perfect for Apple.
  • Liquidmetal uses an injection molding process rather than die-casting. This makes its products more precise and much higher-quality. You can actually see and feel this (e.g. some expensive Omega watches use Liquidmetal and you can see/feel the difference between these and less expensive watches).
  • Liquidmetal is already in use in iPhones and iPads since 2010, but in a very limited capacity. The internal SIM-card ejector uses Liquidmetal. The big question is if Apple will take the bold step of changing the entire casing into Liquidmetal. It would be dramatic and expensive but very Applesque.

So do we think that the iPhone 5 will have Liquidmetal casing? No.
Will the iPhone 5 have more Liquidmetal parts? Yes.

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