iPhone X – Are Apple losing their omnipotent grip on design?

It’s June 2007 and Apple have just announced their first iPhone. The crowd is wowed by the sheer brilliance of Steve Jobs’ vision. A phone that makes calls, sends texts and accesses the internet? A phone that you could also play your music from? A phone that you interacted with by touching its screen?  “Apple is going to reinvent the phone,” said Steve Jobs at the time. And he was right.

Back in 2007 Apple totally nailed it when It came to design. Every man and his third dog will tell you that “Apple is all about the design” Design so powerful that tech plebs still chant to the giant white logo as they queue outside the atrium of a store filled with hipsters and kids playing angry birds.

But what people fail to see is the user centred design that is at the heart of Apple. What Apple was trying to accomplish when they launched the first iPhone 10 years ago was that they were actually solving some serious human design issues. People were tired of having a phone for making calls, a computer for browsing the internet or sending emails and a mp3 player to listen to their music. Above all the interconnected world demanded that people answer their communications immediately. If China can receive my message instantly then China should also reply instantly right?

The world needed a new device, something that brought these issues together and got them to work in a seamless way.

The conduit/vessel Apple chose to solve these problems with was the iPhone, executed with design brilliant using an emerging communication technology: A touchscreen.


Innovative Product Design

Apple’s roots in innovative user-centred design is fused into it’s DNA. Steve Jobs pushed design technicians to look for simple changes every day. Designers at Apple noticed that phones usually needed charging prior to use – A huge UX issue for someone that has just dropped £700 on a new phone and then cant use the thing for 24 hours. Apple company made a simple change that gave the customer a fully charged phone right out of the box. Simple. Solving. Of real-world user issues. This Ted Talk details the issue first hand.

But it feels like Apple hasn’t innovated in a long time. Samsung is bringing all manner of  (sometimes exploding) innovations and Chinese phones are flexing their industrial muscles offering the same features for discount prices. Apple’s last move to not have a headphone jack still angers all but the most hardcore Apple fans (of which there are a really, really high number of) Their bendy phone caused all sorts of viral fun and their rumoured withholding of technology just for further iPhone “editions” only fuels critics.

It seems that Apple’s user centred design has turned into user centred pricing. Apple’s own form of value-based pricing:

Will they pay? Yes obviously.

How much are they willing to pay? A hell of a lot.

How can we make them pay more? Hold back on all the good stuff then release it bit by bit with fancy “S” editions or even an “SE” version that we release every 6 months meaning we can charge top dollar every time a new “iPhone” comes out. Great idea.

But won’t people catch on? No, we’re Apple.

But it seems like people are catching on…


More Innovative product design on the horizon?

With the iPhone X, Apple’s biggest innovations (among some fancy software tricks) are super-fast and wireless charging.

Oh great well I’ll go out and buy an iPhone X right now and get those sexy new features right?

Nope, you’ll have to shell out around another 70 quid to get your phone boosted to full charge in minutes or 50 quid for the Belkin version of the wireless charging pad (who knows how much the official apple AirPad will cost when it comes out). Otherwise, you’ll just be stuck with an iPhone that looks slightly different and is just a little bit faster than the previous version JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER IPHONE, except you’ll also not have a headphone jack or home button.

The iPhone X is supposed to be the best iPhone yet, and maybe it is, but it doesn’t seem to be much different from all the other notches on the Californian bedpost. You’ll still hear people on the bus with this infernal ringtone announcing they are yet another one of the people that at some point (rightly or wrongly) invested in Apple and as such, through Apple’s very impressive design wizardry (let’s not play it down), have been hooked into a lifetime of minimal design and Helvetica Neue Ultralight font. Where IOS is the only way to interact with the world and constant updates force you to keep up with the rest of the cool kids.

Product Design Font

Ok, maybe I’m being a bit harsh on Apple. They really do have some impressive tech and software to their name, I just struggle to feel enthused about a brand that people follow so blindly, it kind of feels like we stuck in the 90s when the world drank Coca-Cola and everyone believed what the TV told them to believe….