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Tech Friday, November 11th 2011 at 4:48 pm

RUMOR: Steve Jobs Scrapped iPhone 5 Mere Months Before Release

The biggest surprise during Apple’s 4S announcement wasn’t what was onstage, but what wasn’t. For weeks before hand, a steady stream of leaks and near-constant press coverage all foretold the release of totally redesigned iPhone 5. When one didn’t materialize, some were left puzzled, others disappointed. But now, Business Insider claims that not only was there an iPhone 5, but that it was scrapped in favor of the 4S just months before the scheduled announcement.

According to their source, which Business Insider says has provided reliable information in the past, the phone was dramatically different than the one that launched. First and foremost, the phone the source claims to have seen a 4-inch diagonal screen — wider than previous iPhones —  and a thinner form factor. The screen was allegedly an improvement over Apple’s already impressive Retina display. It was also meant to have an aluminum back, like an iPad 2, and use the “liquid metal” technology that Apple uses to make its colored iPods blue or red all the way through. The source also claims that the home button “was not a physical press button” and that the iPhone 5 packed a 10 megapixel camera.

The source also says that the rumor around Apple was that it was none other than Steve Jobs that spiked the project before it saw the light of day. Apparently Jobs was concerned about fracturing the iPhone market with the iPhone 5′s bigger screen — a complaint often levied against Android devices. The fear was that by having different screen sizes, the continuity between apps would be lost. Sort of like how iPhone apps look disappointing on the iPad.

While surprising, the claim that Jobs vetoed the final form of the phone at the 11th hour is not too surprising. A recent New Yorker article based off Jobs’ authorized biography portrayed the tech titan as a perfectionist that agonized over every detail. The article, for instance, mentions how Jobs spent weeks trying to choose a washing machine, and after being diagnosed with cancer demanded a choice of oxygen masks while in hospital. That Jobs would reverse course so late in a product’s development seems well within his character.Especially at a time when his ailing health may have kept him away from earlier iterations of the phone’s development.

In fact, it sounds a little too within his character, and the story a little too convenient. To me, the rumors fit the typical pattern of conspriacy theories that rely on hidden, mythical technology far advanced from what we have now. The claims are certainly attractive, though. For Apple fans and hungry consumers, it promises better, sexier products to come. For bloggers and journalists, rumors of a revoked phone could be a chance to save face. It wasn’t their our fault, it was Apple that pulled the rug out on the product they we were reporting on.

Unless someone at Apple produces this mystery phone, or it shows up decades later in one of the periodic dumps of Apple’s R&D models, I’m not buying it.

(via Business Insider)

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