Citing Taiwanese sources from Apple’s (Swiss-cheese-security) supply line, DigiTimes says Apple has made the significant decision to bypass its main manufacturer Foxconn in order to attain forged stainless steel iPhone chassis from fellow supplier Jabil. The chassis would be used to sandwich together front and rear glass panels (sound familiar?).
Of course Apple has been here before. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S used stainless steel to a similar effect, but major differences are expected between them and the 2017 iPhone.
The key change is a switch from ‘billet milling’ to ‘metal forging’. Milling essentially cuts the chassis from a piece of aluminium, while forging essentially squeezes the metal alloy into the mould using extreme pressure. The benefit of this latter method is the metal is much stronger.
This is unlikely to mean the next iPhone has military grade toughness. After all anything with glass front and back – even toughened glass – puts paid to that, but it will allow Apple to create a slimmer and thinner core chassis without losing any structural integrity. This should mean substance and style, though how much space this leaves for a larger battery remains to be seen.