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Jayson A

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Sep 16, 2014
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Hear me out. The camera protruding from the back of the device is a non issue for most people because they’re likely to throw a case on it as soon as they get it and since the case has a cutout for the camera, the phone can remain as thin as possible with a case on it.

For those of us that go caseless, the bump is a bit more annoying since our phone doesn’t lay flat on the table and wobbles, but if they made the entire phone thick enough to remove the bump, then it would be too thick with a case on it.

I feel like Apple (and other smart phone companies) design their devices while keeping in mind that most users have a case slapped on it.

So, in reality, the camera bump is basically the thickness that most users will be using their phone at.

It’s a shame that apple designs a beautiful phone that looks and feels great in your hand, only to ruin that by slapping some plastic on it and a screen protector (as if screen protectors do anything these days)
 
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eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,885
27,018
Is this a new thing then? I ask because the original iPhone up to the iPhone 5s had flush cameras.

I'm not a case user but I don't believe Apple designs the camera bump to fit a case like a Lego or puzzle piece. In various case/no case discussions around here several people have mentioned that the bump is because the technology right now means it can't get smaller.
 

Jayson A

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Sep 16, 2014
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Is this a new thing then? I ask because the original iPhone up to the iPhone 5s had flush cameras.

I'm not a case user but I don't believe Apple designs the camera bump to fit a case like a Lego or puzzle piece. In various case/no case discussions around here several people have mentioned that the bump is because the technology right now means it can't get smaller.
Yes, I understand that the bump exists because the cameras can't get smaller, but what I'm saying is they could bump the entire phone out to the same thickness as the camera bump, but people wouldn't be happy about how thick their phone is, especially since adding a case would make it even THICKER.

As it is right now, when you put a case on an iPhone that has a camera bump, the bump protrudes through the case and the entire phone becomes just about the same thickness as the iPhone would have been without a case if they got rid of the bump.

See what I'm saying?

If they delete the bump by pushing increasing the thickness of the entire phone, caseless people would be happy, but case-people wouldn't.
 
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JPack

macrumors G5
Mar 27, 2017
12,818
24,149
So, in reality, the camera bump is basically the thickness that most users will be using their phone at.

Not really, many cases have a camera lip to protect the lens. Or the entire case is thicker than the camera bump by several mm. In reality, there are too many different cases to make a generalization.

This is not a new observation. The MacBook Air, Sony Vaio, or countless notebook computers before those, they use a teardrop design to minimize edge thickness where possible.
 

Jayson A

macrumors 68030
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Sep 16, 2014
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What the iPhone 12 would look like without the bump....

iphone12side-thick.gif
 

1rottenapple

macrumors 601
Apr 21, 2004
4,712
2,724
I wish there is 100% impervious phone. I used to go careless but at the end I drop my phone from time to time and I just don’t want dings on my phone. So case it is. Unfortunately.
 

lkalliance

macrumors 65816
Jul 17, 2015
1,365
4,296
I hear you. I used to go careless as well, before the camera bump. But then I went from a 5c (my favorite!) to an SE 2016, and since I found it mildly uncomfortable to hold caseless I put a thin case on. But now that I'm on an SE 2020 it would appear I'm cased forever: the wobble on a table with no case would drive me NUTS!

I too wouldn't mind if it were thicker to accommodate the camera, even without battery improvement. After the 5c, the best hand feel on an iPhone was the 4/4S: thick enough to be comfortable even without rounded corners, and it was a little heavier, giving the impression of solidity and density. It felt like a good compact piece of technology and not a stage prop.
 

Knowlege Bomb

macrumors G4
Feb 14, 2008
10,208
8,862
US
Since the X I've preferred how the phone feels in a leather case vs. naked. Whether it's the rounded edges or the new design of the 12 series, the leather just gives it a warm organic feel and eliminates that dreaded table wobble. I also prefer the slight thickness bump vs. the naked phone so I'm probably in a minority that prefers Apple keep the thinner form factor with the camera bump.
 

MikeAK

macrumors regular
Oct 26, 2011
218
241
I hear you. I used to go careless as well, before the camera bump. But then I went from a 5c (my favorite!) to an SE 2016, and since I found it mildly uncomfortable to hold caseless I put a thin case on. But now that I'm on an SE 2020 it would appear I'm cased forever: the wobble on a table with no case would drive me NUTS!

I too wouldn't mind if it were thicker to accommodate the camera, even without battery improvement. After the 5c, the best hand feel on an iPhone was the 4/4S: thick enough to be comfortable even without rounded corners, and it was a little heavier, giving the impression of solidity and density. It felt like a good compact piece of technology and not a stage prop.

The table wobble is the only reason I cannot go naked with my phone. I wish I could because I just love the feel of the iPhone in hand but that wobble drives me insane.
 

StaceyMJ86

macrumors demi-goddess
Sep 22, 2015
8,158
14,518
Washington, DC
I’ve always used a case on my iPhone wether the camera bump stuck out or not. I’ve also always used screen protectors as well. I refuse to use a phone with dents and scratches on it. Even if Apple were to increase the thickness to accommodate a bigger battery, I would either use a case or bumper, and still would use a glass screen protector, as well as a back protector when using a bumper. My devices have always felt too narrow to me to use naked, so I don’t see that happening at all.
 

Jayson A

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 16, 2014
2,671
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I’ve always used a case on my iPhone wether the camera bump stuck out or not. I’ve also always used screen protectors as well. I refuse to use a phone with dents and scratches on it. Even if Apple were to increase the thickness to accommodate a bigger battery, I would either use a case or bumper, and still would use a glass screen protector, as well as a back protector when using a bumper. My devices have always felt too narrow to me to use naked, so I don’t see that happening at all.
Most people never take the case off and then when they go to sell it, they realize that the case has been rubbing dirt and debris all over the phone and causing it to be all scratched up. It's crazy. They put a case on it to keep it in good condition and end up ruining the condition anyway.
 

iterva

macrumors 6502
Jun 16, 2013
397
289
Sweden
The table wobble is the only reason I cannot go naked with my phone. I wish I could because I just love the feel of the iPhone in hand but that wobble drives me insane.
This. So much this! Lol. Would give (almost)anything to have it without the bump.
 

Jayson A

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 16, 2014
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This. So much this! Lol. Would give (almost)anything to have it without the bump.
I don't understand the obsession with thin phones. Give me more surface to hold onto and it's less likely to fall out of my hands
 
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iterva

macrumors 6502
Jun 16, 2013
397
289
Sweden
I don't understand the obsession with thin phones. Give me more surface to hold onto and it's less likely to fall out of my hands
I’m with you on that. Although with the current materials used in 12P series im guessing going thicker would also increase weight. And they already are quite..chunky. But still. I hope Apple gets over their obsession with thinness soon.
 

StaceyMJ86

macrumors demi-goddess
Sep 22, 2015
8,158
14,518
Washington, DC
Most people never take the case off and then when they go to sell it, they realize that the case has been rubbing dirt and debris all over the phone and causing it to be all scratched up. It's crazy. They put a case on it to keep it in good condition and end up ruining the condition anyway.

One thing I can say is I change my case too much to let debris scratch up my phone. Even if I don’t change my phone, I remove the case/bumper every 2 days to clean any debris that it has collected.
 
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Jayson A

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 16, 2014
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One thing I can say is I change my case too much to let debris scratch upgrade phone. Even if I don’t change my phone, I remove the case/bumper every 2 days to clean any debris that it has collected.
That's good. I see so many people never do that.
 

ApfelKuchen

macrumors 601
Aug 28, 2012
4,334
3,011
Between the coasts
Yes, I understand that the bump exists because the cameras can't get smaller, but what I'm saying is they could bump the entire phone out to the same thickness as the camera bump, but people wouldn't be happy about how thick their phone is, especially since adding a case would make it even THICKER.

As it is right now, when you put a case on an iPhone that has a camera bump, the bump protrudes through the case and the entire phone becomes just about the same thickness as the iPhone would have been without a case if they got rid of the bump.

See what I'm saying?

If they delete the bump by pushing increasing the thickness of the entire phone, caseless people would be happy, but case-people wouldn't.
I agree that this is a very reasonable speculation as to Apple's design motives. It's a set of justifications that I've used as well over the years.

It's likely that there are additional design considerations at play. Regardless of which received the most weight in the design process, these are probably receiving a fair amount of that weight.

Yes, the focal length of the camera lenses is a limiting factor in maximizing thinness, however, the second-gen SE, which has one rear lens (28mm-equivalent) is .29 inches/7.4 mm thick, while the 12 Pro Max with its 65mm-equivalent "telephoto" (old-time photographers would not call it that) is the same .29/7.4, and both models have bumps. The dimensions of the internal components (height of chip packaging, practical thinness of battery, ,etc.), display module, rear case materials, and the practical dimensions of the side buttons and switches probably have a bigger say in things.

There is a case (no pun intended) to be made that one reason for the camera bump is to highlight the presence of those cameras. Considering how big a selling point the cameras have become, there's something to be said for drawing focus to their presence, both while displayed in the store (where the phones are always naked) and afterwards.

But absolutely, the designers have to account for the experience of protective-case users. I've felt for a long time that the drive to thinness was propelled more by the thickness of protective cases than by the sexiness of having a fashion model-thin naked iPhone. A smartphone with Otterbox-style protection can be downright fat, no matter how thin the phone is.

Whether the cutout for the camera is larger or smaller matters less, but by raising the lens/flash assembly and providing a raised "buffer zone" around the lenses there's assurance that the case won't impinge on the lens' area of view, which could result in vignetting.

Unless there's a fundamental change in the way smartphones are built, I'll likely always use a protective case (I don't use a screen protector, however - a topic for another discussion). This goes back to my iPhone 4, which I originally used naked. However, when Apple gave out free bumper cases (remember "antennagate"?) I took advantage of the offer and was quickly sold on the benefits of protection.

The bumper case was the perfect advertisement for why a protective case is a good idea - its raised edges meant the display could not hit the ground "flush,"lifting a face-down display off the surface and thus avoiding most grit that might cause scratches. Plus, its resilience delivered obvious shock absorption. Sure, protruding objects can still break the glass, but in all the times I've dropped my iPhones over the years, I've never broken or deeply scratched a display (despite not using a screen protector). While to my mind that minimalist bumper would also have been fine for any subsequent aluminum-backed models (not sure why Apple discontinued them), a case with full rear coverage seems essential for the glass-backed models.

I've long preferred the look and feel of the leather cases to silicone and other plastics. Sure, there's still plastic under the thin leather veneer, but that also means the protection lives on even after the leather wears off (which it can, typically in the corners). The choice is all about aesthetics and not at all about longevity. However, the protection has been more than adequate for the way I handle my phones (others mileage most certainly varies).
 

Jayson A

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 16, 2014
2,671
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I agree that this is a very reasonable speculation as to Apple's design motives. It's a set of justifications that I've used as well over the years.

It's likely that there are additional design considerations at play. Regardless of which received the most weight in the design process, these are probably receiving a fair amount of that weight.

Yes, the focal length of the camera lenses is a limiting factor in maximizing thinness, however, the second-gen SE, which has one rear lens (28mm-equivalent) is .29 inches/7.4 mm thick, while the 12 Pro Max with its 65mm-equivalent "telephoto" (old-time photographers would not call it that) is the same .29/7.4, and both models have bumps. The dimensions of the internal components (height of chip packaging, practical thinness of battery, ,etc.), display module, rear case materials, and the practical dimensions of the side buttons and switches probably have a bigger say in things.

There is a case (no pun intended) to be made that one reason for the camera bump is to highlight the presence of those cameras. Considering how big a selling point the cameras have become, there's something to be said for drawing focus to their presence, both while displayed in the store (where the phones are always naked) and afterwards.

But absolutely, the designers have to account for the experience of protective-case users. I've felt for a long time that the drive to thinness was propelled more by the thickness of protective cases than by the sexiness of having a fashion model-thin naked iPhone. A smartphone with Otterbox-style protection can be downright fat, no matter how thin the phone is.

Whether the cutout for the camera is larger or smaller matters less, but by raising the lens/flash assembly and providing a raised "buffer zone" around the lenses there's assurance that the case won't impinge on the lens' area of view, which could result in vignetting.

Unless there's a fundamental change in the way smartphones are built, I'll likely always use a protective case (I don't use a screen protector, however - a topic for another discussion). This goes back to my iPhone 4, which I originally used naked. However, when Apple gave out free bumper cases (remember "antennagate"?) I took advantage of the offer and was quickly sold on the benefits of protection.

The bumper case was the perfect advertisement for why a protective case is a good idea - its raised edges meant the display could not hit the ground "flush,"lifting a face-down display off the surface and thus avoiding most grit that might cause scratches. Plus, its resilience delivered obvious shock absorption. Sure, protruding objects can still break the glass, but in all the times I've dropped my iPhones over the years, I've never broken or deeply scratched a display (despite not using a screen protector). While to my mind that minimalist bumper would also have been fine for any subsequent aluminum-backed models (not sure why Apple discontinued them), a case with full rear coverage seems essential for the glass-backed models.

I've long preferred the look and feel of the leather cases to silicone and other plastics. Sure, there's still plastic under the thin leather veneer, but that also means the protection lives on even after the leather wears off (which it can, typically in the corners). The choice is all about aesthetics and not at all about longevity. However, the protection has been more than adequate for the way I handle my phones (others mileage most certainly varies).
I only ever used a case on my iPhone 7 Plus because I was afraid to drop it since the round edges and aluminum back made it so slippery to hold that I was constantly fumbling with it. Picking it up off a table was next to impossible.
 
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lkalliance

macrumors 65816
Jul 17, 2015
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I only ever used a case on my iPhone 7 Plus because I was afraid to drop it since the round edges and aluminum back made it so slippery to hold that I was constantly fumbling with it. Picking it up off a table was next to impossible.
I hope this doesn't get too far off topic, but this is a good example of why I loved the iPhone 5c. The square edges made it easy to pick up; the rounded corners made it comfortable to hold; the (unapologetically) plastic chassis made it grippy enough that I never once feared to drop it (though that would vary from person to person or climate to climate based on how dry one's hands were, I guess). I understand it didn't sell as well as other iPhones. I saw them often in the wild...but I expect that because of their colors many more people went without cases and thus they were more visible.

I'm actually preparing to buy a new iMac. Mine definitely needs replacing, but I am sure that the color marketing worked on me.
 

Jayson A

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 16, 2014
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I hope this doesn't get too far off topic, but this is a good example of why I loved the iPhone 5c. The square edges made it easy to pick up; the rounded corners made it comfortable to hold; the (unapologetically) plastic chassis made it grippy enough that I never once feared to drop it (though that would vary from person to person or climate to climate based on how dry one's hands were, I guess). I understand it didn't sell as well as other iPhones. I saw them often in the wild...but I expect that because of their colors many more people went without cases and thus they were more visible.

I'm actually preparing to buy a new iMac. Mine definitely needs replacing, but I am sure that the color marketing worked on me.
That's a good point. Also, the iPhone 3G was one of my FAVORITE iPhone models (design wise). Yes it had issues like cracking over time and some light bleed issues around the bezel, but I exchanged it until I got a good one and MAN that iPhone was great. The rounded back felt awesome and the table wobble didn't bother me.

Also, I took a really fine grit sandpaper and I sanded the back white plastic until it had a perfect matte finish to avoid finger prints. It looked and felt great.
 
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