Ergonomics of the iPhone 4 a Step Backward for Apple

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by jmarvy, Jul 17, 2010.

  1. jmarvy macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    Location:
    Twin Cities
    #1
    Ergonomics of the iPhone 4 a Step Backward for Apple


    The new iPhone 4 is arguably the most stunning and important consumer electronic product on the market. Its predecessors clearly changed the way the world interfaces with technology. The materials and design sensibility of the new phone are reminiscent of a fine hand crafted Swiss watch. I loved the new styling - until I held it in my hand.

    Ergonomics is the science of interactions between humans and their work, embodying anatomic and other principles and methods of design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. So, as exquisite and technically advanced as the new iPhone is, based on accepted criteria for ergonomics, the new phone is a step backwards.

    Previous models had a bow shaped back which is in continuous contact with your cupped hand. The back of the 3G and 3GS models have an adhesion quality helping to keep it securely in your hand. The stainless steel band and flat glass back of the iPhone 4, however beautiful, are very slippery and do not interface nearly as well with the hand as the earlier models. Unlike the earlier versions where the back of the phone curved up and merged with the top, the iPhone 4 has distinct top, bottom and sides. It feels bigger than its dimensions. In the pocket it forms a slab shape. The tapering of the earlier models minimized pocket bulge and tactilely communicates what side is the front of the phone. It’s easier to pick up from a flat surface and is less likely to migrate from vibration.

    Apple offers about 110 iPhone cases from $29 to $149 on the website.
    I assume most people will find it essential to purchase a case or skin. Apple stores, advertising, and literature never show the phone in a case. Many users, myself included, prefer the pure elegance of the phone. We would prefer not to have to further embellish what is otherwise a perfect product just to keep it securely in hand. Until this is rectified, the new iPhone, as wonderful as it is, is not complete.

    There are no protective cases or guards for wrist watches. According to Apple, the new iPhone is made of forged stainless steel and fortified aluminosilicate glass such as used on windshields of helicopters and high-speed trains - certainly enough protection for a phone.

    Apple has single handedly created a new and very profitable product fashion category with hip cases, skins and carriers - another example of the genius of the Apple brand.

    So why would Apple, with its “form follows function” and “less is more” mantra, acquiesce in reducing any of their products attributes? I assume it’s a combination of several factors, but ultimately the bottom line. Apple has always set the bar high, I hope future iPhones will be designed without reducing the functionality and to be complete without necessitating additional accessories for basic usability.



    Jim Marvy
     
  2. itsmemuffins macrumors 68040

    itsmemuffins

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #2
    I find the iP4 a much nicer product to hold and use than my old 3G. I used to call my old 3G the old bar of soap.
     
  3. vincenz macrumors 601

    vincenz

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    #3
    The 4 definitely doesn't feel as "natural" as the 3G/3GS. Of course, that's totally based on opinion, but most people would find softer edges more comfortable than defined ones. You get used to it after a while and you won't even think about it anymore.
     
  4. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #4
    The 2G did not have a curved back, so "previous models" is not an accurate term. I have not noticed that the 3G/3GS felt larger or smaller in hand or pocket than the 2G and 4G, and the 4G was much nicer to handle than the 3G/3GS. The 3GS had the advantage of letting you know which was the front or back in your pocket without looking and I did notice that I polled the 4 out backwards more than I do on my GS. That being said, the lack of a curved on the 4 might be a form first choice, but I never thought it was a significant one due to the increased pleasure given from the new materials.
     
  5. w4rmk macrumors regular

    w4rmk

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2006
    #5
    Apple should have put the antenna beind the glass and could have retained the same pretty look without the antenna problems.
     
  6. Macshroomer macrumors 65816

    Macshroomer

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2009
    #6
    I agree with the OP 100%.

    When I first saw the leaked photos, I thought for sure I would pass on the 4.

    I had my 3G non-cased with just two small strips of black gaffer's tape on either side providing enough grip but not so much that it would hang up in a pocket. I dropped the 3G several times, it got skied over for 1/2 a day in a lift line and then hit with a bottle rocket in a coal mining bar. It worked perfectly the entire time, especially as a phone. The ergonomics on the 3 are what I consider far better than the new 4. You simply have to use a case or a bumper with the 4, one drop could totally destroy it. That makes it a fair bit bigger than the naked 3G. So even with the bumper on, it hangs up in my pockets, making it actually *easier* to drop because retrieving it does not always go as planned with the sticky rubber.

    So as great as the screen, camera, video and speed of the iPhone4 are, the whole of it is a step backwards in terms of overall durability, usability and value to a person with an active life style ( read: has a life, spends very little time on the internet, is not into "Gaming" or other worthless time sucking, ass fattening pursuits ).

    I am afraid that on many levels, Jobs put art before function and it has bit him and Apple in the rear pretty hard. Usually I am OK with art coming first as that is what I do for a living, but not this time.
     
  7. ntrigue macrumors 68040

    ntrigue

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    #7
    I entirely agree with the OP. While it was refreshing to see such a dramatic change in design; ultimately, the ergonomics aren't superior.

    iPhone 4 is very slippery.
     
  8. Fernandez21 macrumors 601

    Fernandez21

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2010
    #8
    To the op, I kind of agree. While in the hand the older design was more comfortable, I find the new design more pocketable and more comfortable when against your ear during a phone call.
     
  9. hchavarria macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2008
    #9
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_0_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8A306 Safari/6531.22.7)

    I agree with the OP, when I first held the iPhone 4 I felt a bit disappointed in the way it felt in the hand. I really like the look but the 3GS did feel better.
     
  10. appleguy123 macrumors 604

    appleguy123

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
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    15 minutes in the future
    #10
    Something to think about: Do you actually touch to back glass? I don't my hand is always on the sides. Maybe Apple plans to allow gestures on the back of the next iPhone so they had to make it flat.
     
  11. entatlrg macrumors 68040

    entatlrg

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    #11
    OP -

    It is a good post, and a good point.

    Apple chooses form over function too often. There's no need for sharp edges on any of their products. The MacBooks have sharp edges, now the iPhone4, why I'll never understand.
     
  12. PNutts macrumors 601

    PNutts

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest, US
    #12
    That's what we do in the forums. You took the time to point out you didn't like their post. I'm not seeing a difference.

    Two different logins are against the forum rules. If that assumption is incorrect and you changed to a new login, what was your old one so we can see your past behavior?

    Back to the thread for those that can stay on topic. I also prefer the old style. The iPhone 4 is too chunky and sharp. It isn't comfortable to hold the edges in your hand. Even if there wasn't reception issues and ignoring the protection, I would get a case to change the feel of the phone.
     
  13. appleguy123 macrumors 604

    appleguy123

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    #13
     
  14. Fernandez21 macrumors 601

    Fernandez21

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2010
    #14
    Maybe you're not a fanboy, and if not sorry. But on these boards most "fanboys" seem to have forgotten what a forum or "discussion board" is all about, and seem to crap on any thread discussing any fault of the iPhone with "shut up" type posts. If you look at you're initial post you can see how someone might think that about you. If you don't want to partake in these discussions, just skip the thread and move on, no need to tell people to "shut up".
     
  15. random person macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 28, 2008
    #15
     
  16. Megalobyte macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Location:
    Florida
    #16
    Under what version of reality is it NOT appropriate to post about whether you find the new design comfortable and ergonomic? What exactly ARE you supposed to discuss in an iPhone forum? Jeez Louise.

    I love, love, LOVE the phone, but I still use my 3GS occasionally at home on wifi and I have to admit, the 3GS is more comfortable in the hand and actually feels smaller.

    I'm hoping incase offers a slider which softens the 4's fairly sharp edges.
     
  17. Savor Suspended

    Savor

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #17
    2G - Most durable
    3G/3GS - Most comfortable to hold
    4 - Most beautiful

    2G's problem was it had the weakest hardware. While the aluminum backing was immune to fingerprints on the back, it was prone to scratches on the Apple logo and chrome bezel. It is just as a slippery as the 4. People need to realize when you cup the palm of your hands, it isn't flat. It is curving.

    The 3's looked like identical twins of the iPhone family with the S being the most talented of the twins, but the back felt cheap with the plastic material.

    The 4 is arguably the most beautiful. Subjective. Easy to apply Zagg and any front and back protectors. Potentially the most versatile-looking and will come with an all-white face now. Back is easily replaceable and more customizable for your liking. But a lack of a chrome bezel also makes it more prone to shatter. Edges feel sharper, it is slippery, fingerprint magnet on both sides, and not quite comfortable to hold like the previous two iPhones.

    None are perfect. Each have their trade-offs. Once the honeymoon phase with the iP4 wears off, some of you rabid Apple fanboys will realize it isn't all that "perfect." Like the beginning of a relationship with someone. So "perfect" and so in love from the start. Wait awhile...
     
  18. sinsin07 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    #19
    Your first sentence was intriguing, however you grossly exaggerate in the second. There are some 6 billion odd people on the planet, the iPhones in the wild are a drop in the bucket. The iPhone is hardly that important.
     
  19. Amnesia87 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    #20
    I can agree with the rounded edges being more ergonomic but the curved back really has no affect at all, since when you are holding the phone (any of the iPhones.) You need to hold the phone extremely awkwardly in order for your hand to be in full contact with the back of the phone anyways.

    If the flat edges bother you, use a bumper, and then presto chango, rounded edges, it's amazing.
     
  20. standingquiet macrumors 6502

    standingquiet

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2010
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    #21
    I agree i held one for the first time today and was horrible it felt wrong and uncomfortable over my 3gs. But i suppose its what you get use to.
     
  21. JayLenochiniMac macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Location:
    New Sanfrakota
    #22
    The iPhone 4 is nowhere as slippery as the original iPhone with aluminum back. You can confirm this by placing each phone on a flat hand, palm up and shake it sideways. You'll notice the original iPhone slides off quite easily whereas the iPhone 4 sticks to the hand, as does the 3G/3GS.

    Yes, the 3G/3GS has the best ergonomics but its build quality is crappy compared to the iP4 and original iPhone. I'll take build quality over ergonomics anyday.
     
  22. extenet macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #23
    I appologize for using the word 'douche', however, it is no different than any other word that would be used as a statement of disdain or disgust.

    as for my second login. When employed by apple, you are not allowed to partake in forums, therefore, I removed all my accounts from all forums. No longer working for them, I created them again. Nice try though.

    Thanks :)
     
  23. PNutts macrumors 601

    PNutts

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest, US
    #24
    Nah, more curious than anything else. I've often thought of creating an alter ego. But if I see "BruceBanner" posting I'm going to be very nice to him.
     
  24. Pattycerts macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    #25
    I can't use this phone without my iFrogz case on it, so I guess I'd have to agree here.
     

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