Fantastic Giz article on iPhone 4 design...spot on!!

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by archipellago, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. archipellago macrumors 65816

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    #1
    http://gizmodo.com/5572546/design-test-note-fragile-beauty

    iPhone 4, you're the most beautiful thing. Holding you—so solid, so smooth, your zowielala screen glowing—makes me greedy. My precious. I want to lick you. I can't stop looking at you. But your industrial design is a failure.

    Don't get me wrong. Like I said back when we found you, you are oh so pretty. But after holding you, after seeing some of the glaring problems you have, I have to surrender to the facts.

    Your industrial design sucks because, despite your sheer beauty, your blazing speed, and having the best software in any smartphone today, Jon Ive and his team didn't completely follow their beloved Dieter Rams' guidelines for good design.

    First and foremost, the rule that good design has to be durable. Good design has to stand the pass of time both aesthetically and physically. Good design has to age gracefully. The object, whatever it is, can't get easily scratched. Its surface can't easily shatter. It has to perdure. It has to arrive to the future and feel at home and natural.

    Then, good design also has to be thorough. Nothing must be left to chance. And good design has to make a product useful. It has to show respect to the user by providing the function it claims with perfection and accuracy. Its form has to follow function to its final consequences.

    Design Test Note: Fragile Beauty

    And your function, dear iPhone 4, is to make calls flawlessly, to transmit smiles and tears through video chat, to show newspaper headlines like they were printed on the real paper as fast as possible. And for that you need a steady, strong signal. Not a signal that drops if the user holds you in a certain position—which just happens to be the most natural position you can imagine. Wireless signals are the heart of phones. They should come first, always. The form should follow its functions.

    This is why the iPhone 4's industrial design is not good:
    The material problem

    Despite being glossy and shiny, the undeniable fact is that glass is not a good material to make products that are constantly being moved around, under stress, and in the hands of users. Glass breaks. That's why you never see products made of glass around you, except when it's completely necessary because the product itself needs to be transparent.

    It doesn't matter that it is strengthened, like aluminosilicate glass, the one Apple uses in the iPhone 4's. In fact, strengthening glass to avoid scratching—which is what Apple did—makes it more prone to extreme shattering on shock. The reason: Aluminosilicate glass has a much higher internal tension than regular glass. What makes it harder also makes it more fragile.

    Cases of broken iPhone 4's backs are already appearing. One of Gizmodo's interns broke his iPhone 4 after accidentally dropping it while testing it. This hasn't changed from previous generations. Hell, I broke my iPhone display twice. The fact is that, at the end of the day, dropping the phone while handling it is something that everyone will suffer sooner or later.

    But the difference is that the iPhone 4 is all glass. If you drop any other phone, you have a 50% chance of breaking its screen. With the iPhone 4, the risk will always be there, no matter how it falls. It's just more exposed to damage because of the material choice.

    Some people argue that the shattering doesn't matter. That the important thing is that this glass is hard to scratch. But, as GDGT editor Ryan Block showed, this doesn't mean it's scratch-proof. He scratched his iPhone 4 accidentally, without even noticing.

    Why? An expert on the matter who wants to remain anonymous, may have a good explanation:

    I saw your article about the glass scratches on the iPhone 4. I work for [a major watch company] that uses the same Chinese factory [as Apple's]. We had a huge problem with a similar "chemically treated" glass from the same manufacturer.

    The glass passed all of our tests. Drop tests, steel ball impact tests, etc. but the glass started chipping and we couldnt figure out why.

    Eventually we found that when the glass was hit against another piece of glass of similar strength they both broke very easily. I would be willing to bet money that if you took 2 iphone 4's and tap the glass edges together with light to moderate force you would get an instant chip on the edge. We found this same problem when the watches were hit onto a glass coffee table, or hit into a glass door when entering a shop.

    Could be a major problem for apple. This caused us to stop production and redesign so that glass edges werent exposed.

    Design Test Note: Fragile Beauty

    Perhaps this is why the glass is surrounded by a black plastic rim. But even if you ignore the above—we don't even know if it is the same glass or not—what practical proof has showed us is that the iPhone 4's glass scratches and shatters. At the end of the day, glass is not a good material choice to make phones.
    The handling

    The material choice also affects handling. The all-glass surface feels more slippery in your hand than other smartphones including the iPhone 3G. Talking with fellow Gizmodo editors Matt Buchanan and Mark Wilson, they agree (both have their own iPhone 4s). Matt says that it is more slippery than his 3G, and Mark that the sharp edges make it uncomfortable to handle. I don't agree on the latter, but I can appreciate his opinion and I know that others will feel the same way. In a way, in its beautiful Germanic minimalism, the phone has lost the humanity of the cheap looking, even naff, but more organic, iPhone 3GS.
    The alternatives

    While you can't avoid glass on the front, you can certainly use other materials for the back. Steel, aluminum, ceramics, teflon-coated materials, even wood—there are plenty of alternatives that would have been more resistant and as pretty. Like glass, all those materials can be scratched too. But unlike glass, all those materials age more gracefully. Scratches in steel or wood give the surface character. The same scratches makes glass look bad.

    Look at this design by Dieter Rams & Hans Gugelot, the Braun SK4 record player and radio from 1956:

    Design Test Note: Fragile Beauty

    Like the iPhone 4, this design will travel to the 22nd century and remain beautiful and timeless. Unlike the iPhone 4, however, this the SK4 will age beautifully, even if gets blemishes on its wood panels. For the next iPhone generation, and for other products, Jon Ive and his team should explore other combinations. Preferably one that would make their designs to have better wireless performance, one of the major sins of the Cupertino house.
    The damn antenna

    That's precisely the other major problem of this design: The wireless reception. The iPhone 4's reception is flawed by design. Holding it in certain positions will degrade the signal dramatically, sometimes completely breaking it. It's not a matter of the AT&T network—which is bad as it is—but a problem of the steel band that serves as the antenna. According to Apple, the antenna was supposed to enhance communications. In the practice, it causes the signal to drop for many people while they are holding the phone exactly like Apple shows in their ads and web pages.

    When asked, Apple offered a very simple solution: Hold it in a different way. Minimizing what could be the iPhone's biggest functionality flaw, industry pundits like David Pogueare saying that the problem is sweaty hands and the solution are insulating cases. That's what Apple is saying too.

    No, that's not the solution. Those are lame excuses for bad industrial design and engineering decision. The fault is not in the user and the usage of the product. This goes completely against Rams' guidelines. Design should help the user, it should enhance the experience. Good design is unobtrusive. It can't limit the user expression, much less obligate him to act in a certain way.

    Jon Ive, do you think Dieter Rams would have asked people to place his T 1000 world receiver in a certain place of the house to have a clear reception?

    Design Test Note: Fragile Beauty

    Do you think he would have asked consumers to hold his Braun T3 pocket radio in a certain way in order to listen to the Beatles with perfect sound quality?

    Design Test Note: Fragile Beauty

    The answer to both questions is no.

    This time, despite creating perhaps the best smartphone available and one of the most beautiful industrial objects in their history, the Apple industrial design team has failed. This time, Dieter Rams won't be happy, just like consumers won't be happy when their iPhone's back break or the signal drops just for holding it.
     
  2. WHM macrumors regular

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    #2
    You are aware this was published by Gizmodo and Jason Chen... the one who purchased and lied about the stolen iPhone back in April. He has an ax to grind because he has been shut out by Apple. He was for the first time denied an invitation to attend WWDC given by Apple when the new iPhone was introduced on June 7th. I have yet to see lines like the world saw yesterday when the Druid or Evo were put on sale? Go figure !!
     
  3. macfanboy macrumors 6502a

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  4. ipoddin macrumors 6502a

    ipoddin

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    #4
    The hate that site has for Apple never ceases to amaze me. You can't take them serious because they are obviously biased and pissed they are being dissed by Apple for what they did.
     
  5. elephunkman macrumors 65816

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  6. aforty macrumors 65816

    aforty

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    #6
    I love the new iPhone but I sort of have to agree. There were some rather poor design choices made for the sake of aesthetics, in my opinion.
     
  7. thetexan macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Article was rather long, but it makes sense.

    the tl;dr version:

    You're beautiful, iPhone 4, but worthless if you can't make calls worth a damn.
     
  8. tomashi macrumors regular

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  9. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #9
    Well, even if that's the case, I agree with him
     
  10. barkomatic macrumors 68040

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    #10
    I know that Gizmodo is probably biased against Apple--but they are also very right.

    The antenna design on the iPhone 4 is a failure. I have one and holding it normally, without a case, causes the signal to fade to nothing. Would I normally go without a case? No. However, its my choice to use one or not, and the phone should at least function without one.
     
  11. WHM macrumors regular

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    #11
    Did you buy one? if you did and not happy take it back...
     
  12. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #12
    I did and I like it

    However, that doesn't mean I can't agree with his points:cool:
     
  13. beaner454 macrumors regular

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    Apr 22, 2003
    #13
    A) Jesus Diaz wrote the article. Look up his post history, he is nothing if not an Apple fanboy through and through. No axe to grind, and had nothing to do with iPhone-gate.

    B)The people who work on the site do not have an obsessive vendetta against Apple now. In fact they posted somewhere north of 24 iPhone 4 posts in the last 36 hours. Most of which were extremely positive.

    I get sick of people in all walks of news getting lambasted for disagreeing with someones view points; be it technology, sports, politics, etc...

    Jesus took a clear well thought stance, provided his evidence as to why, and made his case. There's no arguing with what he says in the end because it's true. Apple & Ive are public subscribers to Dieter Ram's design philosophy. And while I still love the latest iPhone it was definitely against Ram's life lessons. No scandal, no vendetta, no axe to grind.
     
  14. master-ceo macrumors 65816

    master-ceo

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    #14
    "Could be a major problem for apple. This caused us to stop production and redesign so that glass edges werent exposed."

    I guess the "BUMPER" is part of the design, but Snapple wanted to bank an extra $30.

    lol. This S gets funnier everyday


    Sapphire Crystal is the Hardest and Scratch Resistant.
     
  15. fsck-y dingo macrumors 65816

    fsck-y dingo

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    #15
    You don't see the lines for the other phones because Apple's software is top notch. They have the best app store with the largest selection with steady updates for existing apps and brand new ones popping up every day.

    Gizmodo may have an axe to grind with Apple. His handling over the iPhone 4 prototype was very poor. Even after all that sometimes it's a good thing to get news/opinions from those who aren't buddy-buddy with the company in question. I don't know if everything in the article was a fact but it's another way of looking at things. Balance it out with others reports and often the truth is somewhere in the middle.

    The way Apple has handle everything about the iPhone 4 makes it difficult to take their word on much of anything. They have a history of denying problems even when it's obvious to the consumers that there's an issue. Someone posted a picture of Baghdad Bob a day or two ago. Apple is acting in similar fashion in regards to many customer complaints.

    I own an iPhone 4 and really enjoy using it. Mine has the reception issue if held the wrong way. This is the first iPhone purchase I'm considering for return. I don't want to get rid of it but I've lost all faith in this company. It's really a matter of supporting a product you believe in and they've made it difficult to do that this time around. I've got a little more than a week to decided and I really don't know what I'm going to do. I'm leaning more towards keeping it than going to something else. Android is nice but not nearly as polished as iOS4. Luckily I was out of contract with AT&T prior to the iPhone 4 purchase so I can leave them as well if it comes down to that. I really would hate to do it but Apple is making it easier with every press release.
     
  16. alejovh1 macrumors regular

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    Apr 24, 2008
    #16
    I dropped mine yesterday, 4 foot fall face down to a harwood floor! :( my heart almost stoped for a second as I looked at my wife, she just said "ouch". didn't sound good at all, to my surprise the phone is intact, no scratches anywhere, no shatering anywhere, amazing. :)
     
  17. HelveticaNeue macrumors 6502a

    HelveticaNeue

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    #17
    I like Giz. However, there has been abrupt change in Diaz and Chen since the incident. They seem so bitter now in some of their posts. I know all bloggers are biased, but I think they are biased for the wrong reasons.

    Nonetheless, I agree with the points Chen makes in the post above. If this antennae issue is more prevalent than in prior models and other phone simply because of the design of the iPhone 4, then that is bad design.
     
  18. fsck-y dingo macrumors 65816

    fsck-y dingo

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    #18
    Being a certified watch nut I know what you say is true. It's also not easy to break or shatter unless it's smashed against another piece of sapphire or diamond.

    I really feel Apple knew this phone would require a bumper for many users in order to function properly regardless of a person's phone gripping style. Regular cases have always been offered right away but not this time. Now we've got these rubber things that conveniently cures many issues with the phone for $29 more. It certainly makes me think.
     
  19. drew0020 macrumors 68000

    drew0020

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    #19
    I agree with Gizmodo on this one. They are dead on with this article and also praise certain aspects about the phone. I don't feel they are any more biased than other sites.

    They could have bashed Apple left and right but I feel like there have been good and bar articles. He'll they could be like Appleinsider which I rarely visit anymore because they are so biased and their articles are too much.

    I prefer to have the good with the bad though. Some only want it one way or the other.
     
  20. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #20
    If I want to find some unbiased reviews of the iPhone, one place I'll avoid is Giz. They're agenda is definitely anti-apple since that whole iphone prototype debacle.
     
  21. fsck-y dingo macrumors 65816

    fsck-y dingo

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    #21
    Well that's good! I'm glad your phone is still in good shape. Now, don't do that again! :)
     
  22. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #22
    I have yet to see proof of this. I think alot of people just expect it since the issue
     
  23. drew0020 macrumors 68000

    drew0020

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    #23
    I know I have personally been harsh on Apple at times but in fairness to them the end user is buying a phone with glass on both sides. If you drop it I mean that's your fault. if you are the type who drops things often maybe a phone with glass on both sides isn't for you?
     
  24. daihard macrumors 6502a

    daihard

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    #24
    To the OP, was it necessary to paste the whole article? You did provide the link... :confused::confused:
     
  25. JonnyIreland macrumors 6502a

    JonnyIreland

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    #25
    I'm by no means the conspiracy theorist type, but the cynic inside me is beginning to question the coincidence that Apple suddenly decided to enter the world of making a case for their handset (don't think they ever made any type of case or protection for any previous iPhone?).... And that case just so happens to be the "Bumper", which just so happens to "fix" the dropped signal issues.

    I have no axe to grind as I love my new iPhone 4 and it is working fine for me -but I really am beginning to wonder, most big businesses are pretty cynical after all -is Apple really any different?
    Note: I don't think that Apple are doing all this just so they can sell Bumpers, more that the Bumper was an afterthought made to "fix" signal issues instead of delaying the iPhone release or spending millions on a recall to the factory. I hope I'm wrong. :(
     

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