iPhone 6 design impressions
I always thought Android would become my primary device, but I never thought it would be poorly designed Apple hardware that drove me to switch. Then I got the iPhone 6. The industrial design is a huge step back compared to the iPhone 5 and Apple Hardware has me shopping for an Android device this weekend.
The raving reviews for the 6 are about the best LCD screen ever tested and browser and GPU benchmarks. I have not been moved by reaction to the industrial design. Overall my impression is the Apple team optimized for reduced BOM cost over beauty and for quantitative measures of utility over qualitative measures of product quality. Design is Apple’s differentiator and on the iPhone 6 they seem to have forgotten that. Maybe the expectations are too high, but here are some of the things I don’t like:
The “surface tension” gimmick on the front glass surface and the overall shift to a more organic shape. The Five offered elegant bevels and edges that felt native to the aluminum and glass while the screen shape chosen for the 6 could be from any commodity smartphone from Samsung or Xiaomi
The softer plastic channels that run across the back of the phone feel like they belong in the interior of a Honda Fit — and hide some cost cutting on the shape and material use for the back. It does reference the shape of the Five, but in the previous handset, the shape was achieved with metal and glass and felt elegant. Here it is anti-slip utilitarian rubber strips at best.
The action on the toggle switch for muting the sound has a plastic “click” of a pivot and radius rather than the sturdy sliding up/down action of the 5 mute control.
The unbalanced drilled holes at the bottom of the phone for headphones, mic and speakers feel like a missed detail compared to the geometry of the bottom of the five.
The camera lens sticks out off the back like a bolted on after thought. At first I thought my phone had a QA/QC failure — but then I realized they are all that way. I struggle with this one the most and cannot believe they let it off the line this way.
At AND 1, when we lost our product mojo, it was driven by margin pressure and signaled the beginning of some very difficult years. I am reminded of this when I look at the iPhone 6 and think the direction is a mistake. I hope it does not represent a return to commodity hardware for Apple.