Look Who is Redesigning the iPhone X

September 21st, 2017

From the earliest days of the Mac, Macworld magazine chronicled its history. The print publication hit the newsstands in 1984, same year as the original Macintosh personal computer, and kept going for some 30 years, until management decided it was time to go all digital. Only recently, there was a reported staff cutback in which some long-time contributors found themselves without assignments.

I actually wrote for Macworld for a period of several years in the 1990s. I switched to its main rival, MacUser, only months before that magazine folded and combined itself with Macworld. Not one of my smartest moves.

Now I gather most of Macworld is put together these days by a small full-time staff of editors and writers. There are a few notable exceptions, such as Macalope, who delivers a humorous look at some of Apple’s lamer critics.

But without a lot of outside influences and ideas, perhaps the quality of the content may have taken a hit and the publisher may be trying harder to generate some click bait.

So writer Michael Simon did a piece entitled “10 things that need to change about the iPhone X (and none of them are the notch).”

But this wasn’t a one-off. Yet another of Simon’s article is entitled, “Apple Watch Series 3 reviews: The good, the bad, and the ugly.”

That’s the ticket. Look for the negatives. People want to read bad things about Apple, or at least they must be curious why things must go wrong. I just wonder, before I go on, whether anyone has published a piece entitled, “10 things that need to change about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.”

Such a piece may be there, but it hasn’t risen to the top of Google’s listing. Instead, I ran across a number of articles listing positive features of Samsung’s phablet, such as, “10 Things the Galaxy Note 8 Can Do.”

See what I mean? Good things about Samsung. Bad things about Apple.

So since a Macworld “staff writer” wants to suggest design changes to Apple, let’s have a closer look. The implication is, of course, that Apple’s designers and engineers are making loads of mistakes here, and someone has to set them straight.

That’s different from saying that you’d like to see this that, or another feature, but not that Apple must do it, now, quickly! Time is short!

I’ll list them in the order cited in the article

Clearly Simon doesn’t agree with Apple’s product people. He wants the iPhone X to be called something else. Maybe he never quite recovered from all those rumors about an iPhone 8. But it’s mostly about what Apple ought to call the next version (assuming there’s such a thing and it’s not a one-off) in 2018. Or maybe Apple will follow the Mac product naming regimen here, which is to have a core name, such as MacBook Pro, and an identifier for the year in which the model was released, such as Late 2016. Or maybe he’s allergic to Roman numerals.

The second suggestion may actually appear to make sense, at least until people begin to use the iPhone X. So he wants Touch ID to return, because it works. He hasn’t tried Face ID, but how could it be near as good? Wouldn’t putting Touch ID in the rear as an alternative offer a choice? But isn’t that what Samsung is already doing, and how well has that worked? Then again, Face ID does appear to work, whereas Samsung’s facial recognition is one big fail when it comes to security.

The third suggestion is to offer a 128GB version, the theory being that 64GB is too small, and 256GB is too costly. But Apple did the same thing with the iPhone 8. A 128GB option is only available for the older models that remain in the lineup.

And what about being water-resistant? Wouldn’t it be better to be able to go swimming with your iPhone? But at what cost in terms of engineering to shore things up to allow for making it waterproof? Everything has its tradeoffs, and, no, I’m not aching to take my iPhone to the bathtub with me.

The next suggestion, about adding a USB-C port, is more of a wish for Apple to switch from lightning. I suppose that might even be in the cards for future iOS gear. But don’t forget the millions of accessories that would have to be supported with adapters. Apple is already getting lots of criticism for that USB-C move on Macs, and don’t forget the case of the missing iPhone headphone jack. So give it time.

In the spirit of the Galaxy Note 8, he’d like to see support for the Apple Pencil. But how many people use a stylus on smartphones anyway? That said, maybe it’s something that ought to be considered for the future. But a must-have?

The four remaining demands are even less compelling, and that’s saying a lot. The request to remove the icon grid reflects an Android interface option. Yet another OS request is a dark theme in the spirit of how it’s done on the Apple Watch.

The remaining suggestions were probably added just to fill space, for otherwise it would be an “eight things” article. So Simon wants a faster chip. If the A11 Bionic can deliver performance in the range of some MacBook Pros, why not an A11X? But next year, there may even be an A12 Bionic that will blow them all away.

Or, for that matter, how about building an A68X Warp Drive chip that’ll be five times as fast as an 18-core iMac Pro? I mean, if you want to wish for something, why not go all the way?

And what about adding a new color?

I suppose there ought to be more colors, but I think it’s more important for Apple to get as much product into the channel as possible, catch up with demand. Apple has cut back on color schemes this year, which no doubt allows for more efficient production lines, meaning the ability to build more units faster. That may also explain why there are only two storage options.

Should Apple consider these product changes, OS updates and feature choices? Sure why not, but characterizing them as must-haves for the iPhone X clearly represents a level of hubris that’s not worth further comment.

At the end of the day, customers will decide which models and colors they prefer. Not from any single person, and Apple is sometimes surprised at the decisions the public makes. Take the iPhone 7 Plus, which was backordered for weeks because Apple didn’t expect so many people to lust after the most expensive 2016 iPhone.

And did I forget to put up a link to that Macworld blog? It’s not here, but, no, I didn’t forget to do it.

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2 Responses to “Look Who is Redesigning the iPhone X”

  1. Kaleberg says:

    How about a pony? (That’s a Calvin and Hobbes reference. Hey, why not wish that everyone gets a pony.)

  2. dfs says:

    Reminds me of an ancient Gahan Wilson cartoon showing a little boy standing on a chair with a rope around his neck, just about to hang himself. His last words, “this will teach them not to buy me a pony.”

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