How To Make The iPhone 5

It’s easy. Just watch.

Take the original iPhone…

…replace the aluminum back with plastic…

…then keep everything the same, but make the lettering on the back shiny…

…then toss everything out, and make it a love letter to Rams-era Braun industrial design, in the form of a glass-and-steel sandwich…

…then keep it the same again, except make the antenna bands match…

…finally, rebuild the whole thing as one big piece…

…that has a metal back with a matching-color stripe, a smaller dock connector and a bottom-mounted headphone jack.

Pretty easy, right?

A simple, engineered metal shell with a diamond-cut chamfer now holds the phone’s guts and screen — a neat evolution from the iPhone 4/4S’s industrial design. It’s essentially the phone that Apple’s wanted to build since 2005, made possible by iterative advances in engineering and manufacturing over the last five years: a high-pixel-density display with integrated touch sensors, so it’s 30 percent thinner; a new kind of antenna design; the creation of the nano-SIM standard; and incredibly precise manufacturing processes that allow, for instance, each phone housing to be exactly fitted with one of 725 different possible inlays.

Which might sound trivial in a way, but in fact much of what Apple’s designers do now is design the processes needed to make their designs come to life, according to Jony Ive in Objectified.

So that’s how Apple works. For example, as it recounted in the introduction of the first unibody MacBook Pro, it designed the manufacturing process for the MacBook Air, and applied what it learned to create the unibody MacBook Pro. That led to the design of the newer, current MacBook Air:

A lot of which you can now see in the new retina display MacBook Pro. You can expect a lot of what you see in the retina Pro — the new display and fan designs, for instance — to feed back into other products. And don’t be surprised if the next iPhone looks a lot like — or even exactly — like the iPhone 5.

At Apple, progress is process.

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