This is the iPhone concept of my dreams

Someone holding an iPhone 15 Pro Max outside on a patio, showing the back of the Natural Titanium color.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

It’s an odd day to be talking about iPhone design. Yesterday, Apple delivered what can be called the pinnacle of tablet aesthetics with the 2024 iPad Pro, which is even slimmer than the iPod Nano. Today, Bloomberg reports that Duncan Kerr — a design executive from the legendary Jony Ive group and was a key figure behind the iPhone, iPad, and Mac products since 1999 — is leaving the company.

It’s a great loss for Apple and disheartening news for iPhone enthusiasts. Apple almost seems obsessed with the design language it introduced with the iPhone 11 series. And if recent leaks are any indication, we are going back to the iPhone X days with the non-Pro iPhone 16 models later this year.

Then we have the likes of Honor partnering with Porsche to make stunning limited-edition phones. Nothing worked with its community to make a glow-in-the-dark smartphone. Oppo is killing it with the Find X7 Ultra aesthetics. Apple isn’t doing much here, but independent artists and designers are having some fun.

iPhone concept mimicking iPad Pro desgn.

The latest concept render comes from Jonas Daehnert, a Germany-based industrial designer and 3D artist, and it could set the hearts of “metal phone” enthusiasts racing. The design takes inspiration from the iPad Pro, and rather generously while at it. I, for one, would line up outside the Apple Store at the stroke of midnight ahead of launch day if it were real.

We get the same aluminum enclosure with a finely polished surface finish, slightly curved edges, rounded corners, and visible antenna lines. I’ve seen my fair share of thin and light slates, but those antenna lines really add a signature appeal to the iPad Pro, and similar was the case with the iPhone 6 and 7 series.

A metal enclosure means you also have to wave wireless charging a painful goodbye. Everyone holds wireless charging (or MagSafe, if you will) pretty close to their heart. I’m not much into it. I would pick fast wired charging any given day over slow-as-hell wireless juice-up for my smartphone. But let’s set that debate aside for a while.

Metal aesthetics simply rule, so much so that Apple served a brushed finish on the iPhone 15 Pro pair and went as exotic as creating its own special titanium metal blend. I still have a dead HTC One M8 and an iPhone 6S lying in my drawer, both of which I purchased as collectibles solely because of their stunning metallic looks.

Yes, I do remember the “bendgate,” but every material has its own set of flaws. Take the metal-clad iPhone renders as an example. Metal is far better than glass at heat dissipation, and that can make a whole world of difference in day-to-day usage. I have run into my fair share of “phone running too hot” warnings on darn expensive phones like the iPhone 15 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S23.

The iPad Pro, on the other hand, hasn’t even given up on me, even though I pushed AAA titles like Resident Evil Village on it at the best graphics settings. A metal enclosure’s higher rigidity makes it more resistant to surface scratches and scuffs. And, of course, it doesn’t shatter like glass. My wallet is still reeling from the loss of a few hundred dollars in the aftermath of a broken iPhone 14 Pro rear shell. Damn you, Apple!

HTC One M9 back
Dear metal phones, please come back! Ben Nelson / Digital Trends

Metals excel at dispersing heat compared to polycarbonate plastic or glass. On the flip side, while an aluminum phone’s internals may run cooler, the plastic or glass exterior will feel cooler to the touch when under heavy workloads. So even though the plastic model’s internal components get hotter, you’re less likely to perceive that heat on the outer body, making it more comfortable to grip during intensive tasks.

But hey, solutions like vapor chamber cooling have come a long way. The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is a great example of that special thermal innovation. If Apple ever decides to make a metal iPhone again, they certainly can figure it out. The fanless iPad Pro running a desktop-grade silicon and the MacBook Air are living specimens of engineering acumen.

Realistically speaking, Apple may never make another metallic iPhone. But concept renders like these give us some pleasant “what could’ve been” fantasies to talk about. And there’s nothing bad about that.