Apple doesn't ‘do’ radical overhauls. It doesn't ‘do’ outré design either. Flexible screens, massive phablet-style dimensions and quirky form factors are simply off limits for iPhones. For now. And for the foreseeable future.
That probably means that the iPhone 5S / iPhone 6 once again won’t differ too much from its predecessors.
What scant changes as there are will be restricted to the handset’s internals, in the form of more processing might and more memory. And perhaps a rethought home button that houses a fingerprint scanner.
But forget everything you know about the gadget-maker for a minute.
Below, we highlight the design dons and Apple fanboys who take an altogether more imaginative, 'what-if?' approach to the next iPhone. With often spectacular results.
The five concept designs for the next iPhone below are our favourites.
1 Eric Huismann iPhone 6 concept
At the heart of German designer Eric Huismann’s iPhone 6 concept is a transparent display that nestles between a solid metal and glass frame. But it’s not just there because it looks natty.
The see-through screen could have very real benefits for augmented reality, for one thing.
More enticing still is that the dual-sided flexible touchscreen could open up a new area to be used for hitherto-unseen gestures and touch controls, offering fresh ways to interact with your smartphone.
We’re also fans of Huismann’s witty appropriation of Apple’s advertising spiel in mock-up promo material for his handset.
The banner declaring that his concept ‘the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since the iPhone’ is especially great. It feels so close to the hubristic claims Apple makes for its handsets that we think he should consider copywriting if the design stuff doesn’t work out.
2 Arthur Reis iPhone 5S / iPhone 6 concept
Arthur Reis didn’t reinvent the wheel with his concept. But there are some quirks that mark it out from the pack.
Not least the ‘Magic TrackPad’ that replaces the physical home button with a touch-sensitive presser. The 12-megapixel camera with an ‘iSight Pro’ sensor boasting an f/1.8 aperture is a welcome addition too.
At 20% thinner than the iPhone 5, it’s also a fine-looking smartphone.
3 Claudio Guglieri and Fabio Basile’s iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 concepts
Claudio Guglieri and Fabio Basile both went with gorgeous wraparound screens for their tilts at redesigning the iPhone. And judging by the response they've had from Apple apostles, at least some of you would like to see so-called 'infinity screens' on an iPhone for real.
The design pair's really genius touch, though, is that they've also conceived a method to let owners switch off the screen effect for a more traditional display if they want to.
Last week, it emerged that Apple's next handset, or handsets, could pack fingerprint tech into a redesigned, concave home button that would make it easier to read the whorls and lines on users’ digits.
All well and good. But that’s an idea designer Federicco Ciccarese had way back in June. His design’s curved screen and flat bottom also combine to striking effect, resulting in a cuter, more compact and altogether more fun iPhone that’s the handset equivalent of a VW Beetle or Mini.
5 Philip Ink iPhone 5S / iPhone 6 concept
Created by Philip Ink in conjunction with German site iPhone 6 de, this design imagines Apple making like Jackson Pollock and splashing colour all over its top-end phone.
Tech fans will know that although iPod-style colourways have been mooted for the low-cost iPhone 5C, they don’t appear to be in the frame for its premium stablemate.
Given how gorgeous the full-colour models look here, though, we’d suggest that’s something Apple rethinks.
Ink also scores highly for the phone’s 4.5-inch bezel-to-bezel screen and sleek look. We also love that’s he’s actually improved on iOS 7 by replacing Jonathan Ive’s spyrograph Photo icon for a cartoony panoramic scene and tweaked the new GameCenter icon.