iPhone 6…back to the future?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by mcdj, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. mcdj macrumors 604

    mcdj

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    #1
    After watching the documentary Objectified last night (highly recommended), seeing Jonny Ive talk about design and watching people fondle and use the iPhone 3G (the movie was from 2009), I feel that the hardware design of the iPhone 4 is out of step with Apple's otherwise fairly consistent design philosphy, and somewhat out of step with the tenets of good design in general.

    I always thought the iPhone 3G/s felt a bit plasticky construction wise, but from an ergonomic standpoint, it was nearly perfect. The tapered edges made the phone disappear into your hand, while providing a more effortlessly grippable form, as compared to the iPhone 4. When holding a 3G, I never thought about the physical phone; I was simply cradling a portal to the software.

    The iPhone 4 sidesteps the ergonomic flow of the 3G. It's sharp edges and dead flat glass back seem superflous. It looks great on a table and in advertising photos, but held in your hands, it calls too much attention to itself, instead of doing the 3G's disappearing act. And of course, the iPhone 4's biggest breach of good design rules is its external antenna. Form follows function was out the window when it came to designing the antenna.

    If you laid out every iPod, iPhone, and iPad Apple has made in the past 10 years on a table, for the most part you would see a clear design trend towards thinner, curvier, more organically shaped objects that melt into the hands, letting the user forget they even exist, and freeing them to concentrate on the software experience.

    Save a couple of hiccups, (the iPod 3 with those horrible touch buttons, the oddly wide Nano 3), the progression is clear, until you get to the block-like iPhone 4.

    I think the iPad 2 is a peek at what we can expect from a future iPhone. (leaked pics would seem to indicate we're paused on the 4's design for the next release) Though I've written that I preferred the iPad 1 from a visual standpoint, after using the iPad 2 for a week, it clearly trumps the iPad 1 from an ergonomic standpoint, sharing much design DNA with the iPhone 3G.

    The iPhone 3's design stayed around for 2 years. From the minute (and probably well before) the iPhone 3 was released, Apple's design team was working feverishly on the design of the iPhone 4. It's reasonable to assume we'll be getting a spec bumped iPhone 4 (badged as an iPhone 5 or something) before we get a major redesign, letting Apple concentrate their efforts on the iPhone 6. When that redesign comes, I think we'll see a jump backwards, to the tapered design of the 3/G, but likely with the thinness of the 4, and perhaps thinner still, and Apple will be back on track.
     
  2. Eric374 macrumors 6502

    Eric374

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    #2
    I kind of agree, probably heading more towards the "Unibody" design of the MacBook Pro's. I really like the design of the 4, even though a lot of people don't. It's everything I could have asked for in a phone and the design is a design that I absolutely love, as I hate phones that have any moving parts. (they never last long with me)

    But....

    I'm betting that the next redesign of the iPhone will be more like the iPad 2/iMac/MacBook Pro, with the slightly curved back but with squared off edges. Probably with a "unibody" construction, similar to the original iPhone. (by "unibody" I mean the back and sides as one solid piece of machined metal) Also probably made out of Liquidmetal, and using Gorilla Glass, which will dispel all the "durability issues" that the 4 has. It will also probably have a 4" Retina display, and if this year's version comes with a display bigger than the current one I'll be completely surprised. We may get lucky and get a completely new phone this year, but I'm not counting on anything more than a spec bump.

    But for REAL durability they need to build it out of Adamantium, then it would last forever!
     
  3. mcdj, Mar 27, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011

    mcdj thread starter macrumors 604

    mcdj

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    #3
    Funny you should mention durability. Our need for perceived durability was also discussed in the film I watched last night. Marc Newsom mentioned that we could all easily still be using the cell phone we had 5 years ago, but in those 5 years, most of us have had 5 or more different cell phones. And it's not because they wear out, it's because we always want the newest thing, partly because that's our nature, and partly because we've been trained to want the newest things, by way of marketing, media, and society as a whole.

    Also in the film, Karim Rashid and others made some interesting points about the sustainability of manufacturing products, in particular electronics. He opined that his next computer should be made of cardboard. Electronics are discarded long before they're dead, so why build them to last a lifetime?

    20 years ago if you bought a $500 SLR camera, you were careful with it. If you dropped it, it broke, period. And if you dropped it and broke, it wasn't a flaw in the camera, it was just your stupid clumsiness. But today, our $500 electronics are not allowed to be fragile. We demand that they be able to be thrown at a wall in a rage, or carelessly dropped, and they're expected to perform flawlessly and without sustaining a scratch. To me, this is more about people becoming more spoiled rotten and inconsiderate than it is about the actual need for more durable products.
     
  4. Eric374 macrumors 6502

    Eric374

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    #4
    That's why I used the word durability in quotes, I guess I was just raised to make things last longer because you never knew when you would be able to get a new replacement.

    But yeah, when most people buy a new phone every one or two years, there's no real need to build them to last a lifetime. However, with that being said, what other phone out on the market today will look as good 10 years from now as the iPhone 4 does today if you take care of it? None, because they're all made out of plastic. To me, the 4 is reminiscent of products from the '20s and '30s, when you bought an item and expected it to last a lifetime, and a lot of those items are still being used today. The Leica camera comment from Steve-o was spot-on IMHO.
     
  5. mcdj thread starter macrumors 604

    mcdj

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    #5
    There's a difference between still useable and still in use. Personal items from the 20s-30s might be plenty useable, but I think you'll find far more of them on collector's shelves than in actual use. You'll still find people using Leicas from the late 50s and 60s, but less every year.

    Eventually there will be no more 35mm film. Kodachrome was the first in a long line of films that will disappear. 20 years ago, that was unthinkable. So even the Leica that was built to last a lifetime, and may always be perfectly functional, will be totally obsolete some day.

    While aesthetically the iPhone 4 can be compared to a Leica, comparing it in terms of build quality is not only totally irrelevant, but borderline irresponsible. We should be lowering the build quality standards of personal electronics to meet their actual useability lifetime, not our own lifetimes. Sure, the iPhone 4 might look good 10 years from now, but who will care? Collectors maybe. Everyone else will barely even remember it. And if network technology evolves fast enough, it won't even be useable.
     
  6. syc23 macrumors member

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    Feb 11, 2011
    #6
    I think the iPhone 4 design is stunning - Ive's best effort to date.

    If you feel you can do a better design job, why don't you try and contact Steve Jobs with and try and persuade that you have better design talent.. don't hold your breath of getting a reply from Steve.
     
  7. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

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    #7
    Not sure what you mean since the iPhone 4's antenna is better than the previous versions.

    Oh, right...you're talking about the thing where it performs poorly in areas with low signal? Did you forget the part about how it gets better signal overall, thus it has fewer "areas with low signal" than the 3GS does?

    In other words, the places where the iPhone 4 performs poorly are places where a 3GS will perform poorly. So what "function" is going out the window, exactly?

    Also, the rest of your post reads like "my opinion is this, which makes it fact." You're free to like what you like, but your opinion is not the be-all end-all of the design world.
     
  8. Thedeathbear macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    I don't need something to last a lifetime, but I don't want my expensive products to be destroyed from one accident. I don't know why durability is a bad thing? Actually, the iPhone4 is not durable at all. So many people have broken the back panel and the screen countless amount of times.
     
  9. mikethebigo macrumors 68000

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    #9
    Glass cracks. Metal dents. Plastic straight up breaks. **** happens.

    You want a design that's durable? Look at the Panasonic Toughbook. Now try to apply that to a thin and light phone.

    Also, gorilla glass is worse, not better, when it comes to durability from dropping. The glass is harder so it's more difficult to scratch, but the increased hardness also makes it more likely to shatter.
     
  10. Thedeathbear macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Look at a toughbook? I use one. A toughbook is used for super rough conditions. I just want a phone design that easily survives fall from 5 or less feet.
     
  11. Pez555 macrumors 68000

    Pez555

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    #11
    i think the iPhone 4 is the nicest thing Apple have ever designed. I don't care about durability or how it holds in your hand (i have no problems with either anyway).
     
  12. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

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    #12
    I've dropped my iPhone 4 a half dozen times. Usually on hard tile.

    One time it hit the metal stand of a chair on the way down.

    Still fine.
     
  13. b166er macrumors 68020

    b166er

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    #13
    I've dropped my iPhone 4 a few times and I have been lucky it hasn't cracked. I do agree that the "tougher" the glass, the easier it shatters.

    It's true though- a lot of people have unrealistic expectations for the durability of their electronics. Every time you drop something, it is your own fault, 100% of the time. But it's Apple's fault when an iPhone breaks... That's why insurance policies for electronics are getting to be so popular I guess.
     
  14. TruckdriverSean macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Well from my perspective, "good" design is of course, very subjective. while there are things about the iPhone 4 I really like (overall aesthetics, super snug fit of ruggedized cases) there are things I don't like much at all (barely protected glass edges for one thing)

    Consider also that your need for durability will depend on your useage environs. I spend 12-13 hours a day in and out of an 18-wheeler. Theres dust, humidity, bumps and harsh vibrations all day long. A phone that an office worker might consider "good enough" in terms of durability might not last long at all in my world. And there's a massive amount of people who live and work in situations just like me, with smartphones too.

    So coming up with a nice arbitrary standard of what constitutes "good enough" durability and stopping the design right there (for reasons of good social responsibility, of course), will leave you with a product that most people don't want. (simple solution would be to have an law requiring that lower standard so all electronics will have class equality ;) )

    As for the iPhone 5, I too think it will be very similar to the iPhone 4, and that the redesign won't come until the iPhone 6. Maybe by that point I can change my ole' trusty sig line...
     
  15. Thedeathbear macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    So you're walking down the street holding a new $2,000 MBP. A guys trips, knocks into you, and makes your MBP smash into the ground and destroys it. That is definitely 100% your fault :rolleyes:
     
  16. nick9191 macrumors 68040

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    #16
    If you drop your phone and it breaks, it's your fault, period. Only someone completely neurotic, or just plain stupid could believe otherwise.

    Nonetheless, making products to a lower standard just because they wont be in use 5 years down the road is just foolish. Not only does it advocate the consumer getting screwed over with an inferior product (now there's a surprise), it's also an opinion from someone who knows little about design. If you reduce the build quality of a given product, it's more likely that it will break within a short period of time than break in a couple of years due to prolonged use. The 3G and 3GS (a bad example to give by the way when having a discussion about durability and build quality), the plastic cracked within weeks under normal use. The iPhone 4 on the other hand, well built. Wont suddenly break after 3 years, will probably be fully functional in 10 years. You can't design a product to break a few years down the line, if it breaks it will break soon after purchase, otherwise it will most likely run for years, yes there are many exceptions to that rule.
     
  17. mcdj thread starter macrumors 604

    mcdj

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    #17
    Thanks for your excellent but entirely unsolicited advice. You can put away your stupid snark gun. Nowhere did I mention a word about being a designer or having a better design myself. In fact, if you weren't so busy formulating yet another cliche "if you think you can do better" post, you may have noticed I'm saying that Apple themselves already have a more thoughtful design in the iPad 2 and iPhone 3G.

    But reading and replying thoughtfully is no where near as satisfying as firing off a quick aggressive baseless defense, tired and useless as it was in this case.
     
  18. b166er macrumors 68020

    b166er

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    #18
    If you're walking down the street with a MPB and it isn't in some sort of protective box or bag, then yes it's your fault. On a side note, I have dropped my MBP twice now, and it is still fine. Again, I think I'm lucky on that one.
     
  19. Thedeathbear macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Why would I need to put in a box or a bag? I know I won't drop it. I was using my MB on a couch and my uncle tripped, knocked over a tray, and the cup flew on my MB spilling water on it. Should I have put my MB in the bag while I use it? Oh sorry, that is totally my fault to use a MB where water is present.
     
  20. nick9191 macrumors 68040

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    #20
    Then it's your uncles fault, or the guy who knocks into you on the streets fault. Either way it's not Apple's fault.

    As in, carelessness.
     
  21. b166er macrumors 68020

    b166er

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    #21
    Yeah- I usually make it a point to not have liquids near my computer.

    My point was, people drop stuff all the time, and that's why device protection plans rake in so much money. Simply saying "I know I won't drop it" does not make it so. There are any number of situation that could cause you to drop it. But you dropping your phone, having water spilt on it, etc- is your fault, not a design flaw with the device itself. Yes someone could fall in to you, or spill something on you, but that doesn't mean the durability of your device is in question. Durability is a flexible perception based on an individuals need.
     
  22. Thedeathbear macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    Correct, but b166er doesn't understand it.
     
  23. b166er macrumors 68020

    b166er

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    #23
    yeah the internet is hard
     
  24. mcdj thread starter macrumors 604

    mcdj

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    #24
    I'm talking from an industrial design standpoint. Two antennae, whose sole functions can be been compromised by shorting them with touch, should probably not be placed where they can be touched.

    And since you too seem to state facts, do you have a source that backs up your claim that the 4's antenna is "better"?

    Sorry if my opinions came across as fact. My college writing professor said the same thing, but I got an A. This is an internet forum, where the opinion to fact ratio is off the charts. Fact. I will do my best to remember to pepper my future posts with plenty of IMOs.
     
  25. Eric374 macrumors 6502

    Eric374

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    #25
    That's like saying GM has a design flaw in the Corvette because some guy runs a red light and slams into you.

    Jeesh!:eek:
     

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