iPhone 5 to Add Front LED Notification Light?

Engadget today published images of a purported iPhone 5 front-screen that looks much like an iPhone 4 screen except for one significant addition: a small LED light indicator like that found on Apple’s Macbooks (seen below).

A green LED light next to the camera on a Macbook Pro.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen evidence of a front-facing LED light indicator for the next iPhone. Back in July, we published a report on how Apple was adding a LED alert light on the iPhone’s front to coincide with a revamp of iOS’s notification system. One of iOS 5’s new features will be a Notification Center that will organize and time stamp alerts from apps.

Our article was based on a source from the iPhone Download Blog who wrote in to clarify a June report from Digitimes that said the next iPhone would get dual LED lights. The “dual lights” was being misinterpreted to mean the next iPhone would get two LED camera flashes. The source indicated that, in reality, one of the iPhone’s new LED lights would go on the front of the iPhone as a notification indicator.

With the notification light, Apple may be looking to copy one of the Blackberry’s most beloved and business-friendly features: the infamous blinking red light on its front. Businesspeople in particular rely on the light to be alerted to important messages in a timely manner. Apple has made a strong push into the corporate world with both the iPhone and iPad, going out of its way to add business-friendly features, including setting up a bulk-purchase program for apps, adding crucial corporate-security features like SSL VPN and remote wipe, and adding compatibility for common corporate email systems like Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync. The indicator light could be another addition to the iPhone’s business-friendly arsenal.

Extreme closeup of prototype iPhone's new LED.

The new LED light could also serve the same role as its counterpart on Apple’s laptop: to notify users that the front-facing camera and/or back camera is recording video.

Although Apple has in the past used green as the color for its laptops notifications, the LED light on its magsafe power cords are capable of producing several different colors to indicate charging status. Likewise, the iPhone’s light could change colors to indicate different statuses, such as low battery, notifications, etc. The video below shows a mockup of what an iPhone front LED might look like in action:

One caveat to Engadget’s report today is that the leaked front-screen images seem to be for an iPhone 4S and not a totally redesigned iPhone 5:

….according to the mark along the bottom of this part, we’re apparently looking at an “EVT1” (Engineering Verification Test) piece from March 3rd 2011 (making it about three months older than the white N94 back covers that made the rounds last week, assuming they’re legit). Additionally, when our sources last checked around June and July, the N94 had yet to hit the DVT stage, so it’s hard to determine whether these parts will remain the same in the final design, or whether the N94 will even make it to the production line at all.

Even if the iPhone 5 (ie, iPhone 4S) does not get a totally redesigned exterior, a feature like an LED light indicator along with improved internal hardware and iOS 5’s cloud features could go a long way toward making people feel like an iPhone 4S is indeed a new-and-improved device worth shelling out cash for.

  1. Snowy says:

    Horray!!! Great news for deaf users with LED lights on a phone! We need it for messenger via text messages.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3