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A new 5.5-inch, 5-inch and 4.7-inch model will each have a glass back, the unnamed source told Nikkei in a report published on Wednesday. The source also expects that the revamped iPhone casings may have different suppliers than the usual assembler, Foxconn.
Still, the source told Nikkei's Debby Wu, the decision is tentative and could change. CNBC has reached out to Apple for comment.
News of the glass phones comes amid long-standing rumors that the next iPhone —the iPhone 8, by convention — will see a serious design overhaul.
KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote in September that iPhone models slated for 2017 will adopt a completely glass exterior, according to 9to5Mac. In May, Pacific Crest supply checks indicated that an all-glass exterior could accompany a curved-edge screen on new "iPhone Pro " in 2017.
Apple has already tested the appeal for a glossy phone with the jet-black iPhone 7 Plus, which has been in short supply since it was unveiled this fall. But glass could be easier to manufacture at large scale, 9to5Mac reported.
Not only would glass exteriors give the iPhone the glossy look that's already popular in Samsung phones, but it could have other uses. A clear glass phone could incorporate eye sensors that work with an advanced virtual realty headset, wrote Robert Scoble, entrepreneur in residence at UploadVR.