Apple. The company that has successfully merged two disciplines – consumer electronics and product design. They weren’t the first to do it, but, I must say, they have done it exceptionally well. The first iPhone came out in 2007; Everyone started talking about product design, minimalism, innovation, the revolution in the tech industry. It was the year when a great number of people from huge companies pulled their hair out when they realised that something this simple can work this well. And so it began – The smartphone revolution. Nine years of product evolution later – the iPhone 7 Plus is announced and released. Let’s take a better look at it’s design.
Well, it’s a rectangle with a screen. On a serious note, iPhones are incredibly minimalist. Simplicity and cleanliness are key elements when it comes to iPhone’s design. It comes in a sleek aluminium unibody that was CNC machined to incredible tolerances to house all the components, keep its strength and low thickness. The front of the device comprises of a single pane of dark glass, with elegantly curved perimeter edges that mold into the aluminium body. It truly looks seamless. All the little details, such as buttons or internal edges are nicely chamfered to give it that premium look and feel – a thing that Apple does well. Very well.
Form vs. Function.
That’s a tricky one. The main purpose of a smartphone these days is to display. As long as it has a display and the body follows its shape, then you can say that form follows function, yes. However if we dig deeper and compare it to other smartphones on the market, we find that it’s quite the opposite. Whether you’re interested in technology or product design, you’ve probably heard about Apple’s controversial decision to get rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack port. Now there are a few reasons to do so: 1. The “3.5mm” technology is old and there are better alternatives to it. 2.The device is so thin and compact that there’s no space left to accommodate the port. That second reason is the definition of “Function follows form”. If you’re an audiophile (or just prefer your current headphones), you will have to carry a 3.5mm – to – lightning port adaptor. Which isn’t minimalist or simple at all. One more thing to worry about.
It’s beautiful. It’s difficult to deny that. Premium materials give it that sleek look of quality and durability, tidy arrangements of simple shapes turn it into a product design art-piece. Unfortunately, some decisions that Apple has made are questionable, to say the least. But one decision stands out – to make the device as thin as technologically possible. If Apple would quit the race of “who can manufacture the thinnest smartphone”, it would have no flaws. It would be perfect. It would not have the awful camera bump that makes the device wobbly on the table and ruins your jeans. Apple would not need to discard the 3.5mm audio port. The battery life would be incredible. However, it’s not the case in real life. Of course, Apple is a company. Companies exist to make money. Battery capacity is expensive (at this density). An audio port is just another component that has to be purchased and “designed” into the device. The lack of the audio port will also massively increase the sales of headphones manufactured or owned by Apple. But, personally, I think it’s a tragedy. Lightning port is nevergoing to be a standard for headphones (due to Apple’s patents, and compatibility issues with other devices). Bluetooth headphones need to be charged. A pair of earbuds that have decent battery life and work universally across devices don’t even exist yet. The only options you have are to either buy a pair of headphones that only work with Apple products, carry an adaptor with you or pack some extra juice to charge your Bluetooth headphones. But even if you do have the adaptor with you, you’re still not fully covered. Picture this: you’re on a plane/train/bus. Your phone is about to discharge. There’s an outlet that you can plug your charger in and charge the phone, but then you’re not able to listen to your music for a few hours. And no, iPhone 7 Plus does not have wireless charging. Why Apple, why? (Courage, that’s why). I do have an answer to this problem though. And it’s called USB-C.
Another big problem with the iPhone is that they are as slippery as fish fresh out of water and as fragile as your mother’s antique vases. Most of the consumers end up attaching a bulky case on the back and an extra layer of glass on the screen. Which, in turn, completely ruins iPhone’s gorgeous design and turns it into this plastic-y, usually poorly manufactured, toy-like device. Bad.
Lastly, the “Jet Black” option. The development of the glass used for phones has brought us to a point, where it’s almost impossible to get it scratched. Polished aluminium is a different story. It’s so soft (compared to other materials around you) that virtually anything will leave a mark on it. “Silly” is the only word that describes this option well enough. (Some of the iPhones arrived pre-scratched from the factory!)
All in all, iPhones are beautiful. Credit where credit is due, Jonathan Ive and his team has done an amazing job. Apple as a company, lately – has not.
All content is original. All images on this article are renders and do not contain the actual product.