A new supply-chain report supports long-running rumors that this year’s iPhone will abandon aluminum in favor of glass back and front. The Digitimes report states that Apple will use a stainless steel frame to hold together glass panels along the lines of the iPhone 4 design.

The next-generation iPhone is expected to abandon its conventional aluminum back cover design and will adopt a new design using two reinforced glass panes and a metal frame in the middle. The metal bezel will be made of stainless steel using a forging process to enhance its sturdiness and reduce costs and manufacturing time.

The prospect of a mostly-glass design was first raised in a KGI note in April of last year, supported by subsequent reports from Foxconn, glass suppliers and elsewhere. The move seems likely in the light of other rumors regarding the iPhone 8 …

Jony Ive is said to have long been working towards a ‘single slab of glass’ look for the iPhone, and Apple is widely believed to be aiming to embed the Home button and Touch ID sensor into the display in a near bezel-free design this year. Completing the glass-dominated look by using the same material for the rear of the phone would fit with this vision.

The popularity of the Jet Black iPhone 7 also provides evidence that a glossy black look would go down well with consumers.

There have been conflicting reports on whether Apple will opt for a curved screen or a flat-sided design along the lines of the iPhone 4 and 5, and revisited with the iPhone SE. Some reports suggest that a curved screen might be offered only in a top-tier model.

Using glass as the primary material would potentially make long-distance wireless charging more practical, another potential feature that has been the subject of a series of rumors.

Some have suggested that Apple may be working on a really special iPhone for the 10th anniversary of the device. While others have dismissed this on the basis that Apple hasn’t historically paid much attention to product anniversaries, it is notable that the company is making more of a deal of this particular anniversary. The consensus view on Wall Street is that the iPhone 8 will generate a ‘super-cycle,’ exceeding sales of the first larger-screened models, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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