Why should Apple change iOS hardware design every year?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by bandrews, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. bandrews macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2008
    Every day there seems to be another thread on how Apple is doomed because its hardware designs are so "samey" (apparently, Samsung is the way forward). Just because each annual iteration of iPhone or iPad isn't some brand new monumental breakthrough in industrial design does it mean Apple is running out of design inspiration?
    As an aesthete (or someone who thinks of himself as one), I can see the beauty in truly great design whether it's a can opener, a chair, a car or a phone. If it truly is good design then it will always be a thing of beauty - just because it is a year old, doesn't make it any less attractive. OK, all the techno-bobbins inside, sure enough, they need to constantly evolve to incorporate new technologies but, taking the new iphone and iPad mini as examples, what about them, externally, needs to change? In two years time, if they were running with cutting edge guts but looked more or less the same, would everyone be wailing that they're dull, uninspiring, outdated?

    Do they look good now because they're new or because they are examples of good design?
    How about if the design just evolves? Is that proof of a company lacking inspiration or a company constantly fine tuning good design?

    I have quite a sizeable collection of iPods. Yes, my 2G Classic is a bit of a brick but it is still a fantastic chunk of plastic and metal. Line all my iPods up and I can see an evolution in design because they were allowed to evolve; a distinct family resemblance with each one slightly different in form and function from the last. But the iPod release never really had the rabid followers that new phone releases now suffer. So, what will happen to iPhones and other iOS devices if consumer demand continues to unnaturally and greedily push for "different" every year? Will Apple run out of ideas or will it bring about a great new wave of design?
  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    Having used that quote, there are some changes they could make that are just changes. There are some they will make that will be improvements. And then they could make a change that is a bad idea.

    For example switching to their own Maps was a bad idea, but that was probably because it wasn't really ready. I'd say after a couple more Apple Maps updates we'll know if it actually was a good idea.

    As batteries improve and various technologies related to iPhones including technical and manufacturing happen, Apple will of course have to adjust what the phone looks like externally to fit those changes.
  3. w00t951 macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2009
    Pittsburgh, PA
    According to Bear's adage, we shouldn't change anything until it's completely nonfunctional. Which makes complete sense.

    Innovation and change is good for consumers and the industry - it's one of the reasons capitalistic economies work so well.

    Of course Apple should update their hardware frequently. It's a refreshing change for consumers and it continuously modernizes industry design philosophy.

    I guarantee you, Bear, that the past iPhone 1 (stretched, albeit) could easily fit everything the iPhone 5 contains. But Apple isn't stupid and they've got through 4 major iterations of iPhone design so far.
  4. sulpfiction macrumors 68030


    Aug 16, 2011
    Philadelphia Area
    I wish apple would go back to the original iPhone design while keeping the 4" screen. It was perfectly balanced, felt great in the hand, and the weight was perfect. Not to mention it was a tank.
  5. AppleFanatic10 macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2010
    Hawthorne, CA
    I don't think apple should change the hardware EVERY year. Maybe every two years. Personally, before the iPhone 5 came out, I thought that the iPhone 4/4S design was perfect. To be quite honest, the iPhone 5's design isn't really THAT different from the iPhone 4/4S design..
    It's just slightly taller, a lot thinner and the back is made up of aluminum instead of glass.


    They kind of have with the aluminum back on the iPhone 5.
  6. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012

    Then stop opening those posts. Seriously.

    Chuck it to taste. The kids like lots of buttons, flashing lights, anything new. Others like simplicity, consistency.

    We buy what Apple makes. If it comes a day when the competition make a cooler phone, we jump ship, as simple as that.
  7. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    I didn't say the changes to the iPhone over time were bad. what I was saying is that changing something just so they can say they changed it can actually make something worse instead of better.

    And as I said it will change as the components change - it's thinner because they changed how the glass is laminated to the screen and they keep up with Corning's improvements to the Gorilla glass. Also the change in battery technology enables some of the change to how thick it is.

    How many ways can you change the basic shape of a phone and still have it be comfortable to hold and not be a nightmare to assemble.

    Innovation is good (usually). Change for the sake of change may not always be good. And as for it being good for the economy... have you actually checked out the state of the US economy?
  8. clukas macrumors 6502a


    May 3, 2010
    Same here. I really like the iPhone 4 design. For myself the iPhone 5 design is not worth the upgrade, other than internal hardware.
  9. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    The unchanged design over 2-3 years is (one reason) why Apple's iPhone has such a strong 3rd party ecosystem. Third parties simply do not want to try to play catch-up with radically changing designs year after year (or in HTC and Samsung's case, sometimes month to month).

    Show me another single smartphone that has such a wide selection of cases and accessories as the iPhone 4/4S. And if the iPhone 5 and it's immediate successor maintain the same form-factor, it too will have a tremendous ecosystem of 3rd party accessories.

    There's no reason to change just to please a few attention span-deficient teenagers and "tech" bloggers. If the evolution of the device requires a change, so be it. If it doesn't, it shouldn't change just for the sake of change.

    And you know, these same people will be the first to post how mad they are at Apple for changing designs just to make people buy all-new accessories again.

    Lets see... Does ANY android phone fit the same cases as the preceding model? Nope. Do people get mad that now they have to buy a new case, a new spare battery, a new docking station, etc? Yep. I read about it all the times on the android forums (I read them as I also have a SGS3).
  10. Amplelink macrumors 6502a

    Oct 8, 2012
    Agreed. And it's not like the Note 2 changed drastically from the Note 1 either. I think Apple is just a victim of its own success. They've put out so many groundbreaking products that people expect the same thing each release.

    The fact of the matter is that Apple the smartphone market is still growing rapidly. There are still a ton of potential first time IPhone owners. That's the market Apple needs to focus on and subtle design changes don't matter to them.
  11. lelisa13p macrumors 68000


    Mar 6, 2009
    Atlanta, GA USA
    Thanks for keeping this discussion to such a civil tone. Threads like this one can, and do, easily go off the rails. It's been a pleasure reading this one. :)
  12. CEmajr macrumors 601

    Dec 18, 2012
    Charlotte, NC
    I think the iPhone 4/4S is the base for the iPhone design that Apple has deemed the "ideal" phone. As evidenced by the iPhone 5 design, they will continue to use that base and just make slight tweaks and improvements for the foreseeable future. There's absolutely no reason for them to radically change their design just for the sake of change.

    The reason you see manufacturers like HTC and Samsung constantly making radical hardware design changes is because they have yet to figure out their ideal design that works. Samsung seems to be getting close though.
  13. Agent-P macrumors 68030


    Dec 5, 2009
    The Tri-State Area
    Seems plausible to me. And if this is the case, then I'm not complaining. IMO, the design for the 4/4S is the best one yet. I still like it more than the 5. If I could get the 4/4S design with a 4.3" 720p screen, then that would be my ideal iPhone. (I know, I sort of got distracted from the point I was making)
  14. kockgunner macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2007
    Vancouver, Canada
    Many Apple designs are timeless. I have a 5, but I'm still partial to the iPhone 4 design. I'm glad they kept the design language.

    As for your question, Apple doesn't change the design every year. They have an S model which is pretty smart (although it may put off a few people who think they aren't innovating) because it lets them keep the design they worked so hard on for more than a year. Apple's other products have a 4-5 year design cycle, but phones are considered more disposable so they need to redesign more often just for the sake of attracting new customers. Also, other competitors release many phones and if Apple keeps the same design for a phone, if people don't like that particular design, they won't choose iPhone for as long as they have that design.
  15. onthecouchagain macrumors 604


    Mar 29, 2011
    I don't think it's as much looks as it is about screen sizes. Currently, there is only one size available in a current generation iPhone.
  16. AppleFanatic10 macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2010
    Hawthorne, CA
    Well, my iPhone 4 was showing its age so I figured that it was time for an upgrade. It was slow, didn't get as much features as the 4S and no 3G FaceTime unless its jail broken (not that I really use it anymore, lost my unlimited data for the upgrade).
  17. clukas macrumors 6502a


    May 3, 2010
    Its worth for the hardware upgrade inside (i.e. faster processor, more ram etc). I was referring to the exterior (i.e. case etc.). I will be upgrading my iPhone 4 with the iPhone 5s or 6.

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