Industry sources say Apple's new iPhone 5 could be housed in a little-known hi-tech alloy known as 'liquid metal,' which feels like glass to the touch.
The UK 'Daily Mail' says the alloy, a mix of titanium, nickel, copper and zirconium among other metals, is tough, light and scratch resistant, and said to feel as smooth as glass.
The material can be shaped in a process similar to the 'injection moulding', used for plastic which could lead to a rounder, more organic shape for the new handset.
The leak was reported in Korean IT News, which said, 'In the meantime, iPhone5 is likely to take liquid metal, an alloy of zirconium, titanium, nickel, copper and so forth having an outer surface smooth like liquid.'
Apple's iPhone 4S is looking increasingly dated as manufacturers such as HTC bring out phones such as the One X armed with hi-tech components such as quad-core processors.
Sony's Xperia S has a screen resolution far higher than the current iPhone. Samsung is also said to be on the verge of launching its eagerly awaited Galaxy S3 handset.
'The successor to the Galaxy S2 smartphone will be unveiled at a Samsung-hosted event in the first half of the year, close to commercial availability of the product,' said the Korean electronics giant in a statement.