There’s no proper word for the opposite of “evolution.” Rollback? Backslide? Deterioration? Whichever, these might be the words haters of iPhone X’s design are looking for to describe Apple’s latest flagship device.
It’s certainly polarizing. The iPhone X, one of the most radically designed iPhone in years, is almost all screen. Apple even had to get rid of the home button to offer a seamless, borderless experience. Design chief Jony Ive wanted an iPhone that was almost just a slab of glass with a screen on it, blurring the line between hardware, software, and user.
Apple has always basked in its legacy of integration. Its hardware and software are perfectly fused together, resulting in a unique user experience arguably unmatched. It’s perhaps this integration that could explain why people would shell out thousands of dollars for a MacBook, despite better, far cheaper PCs available. They want the combination of macOS and Apple hardware, plain and simple.
As it is, the iPhone already offers an excellent integration of hardware and software, but Apple wanted to go even further. It wanted no boundary between the user experience and the hardware. It wanted the phone to be as immersive as possible — to make it just a slab of glass. To achieve this, Apple knew it had to make sacrifices. The iconic Home button had to go and be replaced with a virtual gesture bar. The top bezel had to go too, but where will the sensors go? At some point in the design process, Apple decided to make the bezel a notch as a compromise — The Verge calls it a “monobrow.”
The iPhone X Notch: Ugly Or Necessary?
It looks exactly like a design decision that would start arguments among people, and it already has. Judging by early reactions, most people seem to understand why the notch is there — it houses a lot of sophisticated sensors such as the TrueDepth camera — but still see it as an off-putting flaw that disrupts the seamlessness of the iPhone X’s massive display.
“Apple’s design choice looks ugly thanks to the permanent notch at the top, but its decision to embrace it should also encourage developers to do the same and offer more unique ways to handle the display,” says The Verge’s Tom Warren.
Some developers are indeed trying to find solutions. They’re either trying to ignore it’s even there, hide it, or incorporate it into the user interface.
The Verge’s Vlad Savov is optimistic of the notch, calling it a chance for Apple to turn a flaw into unique branding. “[Apple], widely recognized for being the best at marketing its products, is now giving the world another universally recognizable feature (and an amusing pun) in its top-notch design,” he said.
Business Insider’s Dave Smith was more critical. “[iPhone X] is the most futuristic, most expensive phone Apple has ever built,” he said. “But have you seen that notch at the top of the phone? Yuck.”
Apple’s Worst Design Decision In A Long Time?
Call it ugly, distracting, or a terrible design choice, but at least the notch has a reason to be there. If Apple chose to thicken the top bezel, it would have arguably looked just as odd as it does now. Without the notch, there wouldn’t be a TrueDepth camera system, which is the technology powering Face ID.
In all seriousness, Apple’s worst decision in recent years has to be the removal of the headphone jack. It started with the iPhone 7, and it continues with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. There simply wasn’t any sound reason why Apple would remove such an essential port. It’s a baffling design choice, and what’s even more baffling is that Apple is just trying to ignore it until everyone does too.
So the notch isn’t Apple’s worst idea ever, but it is causing plenty of dissent and commotion. In the end, that just means people are paying attention. They’re talking about it. Any form of discussion is just free advertising for Apple.