Every time Apple comes up with a new iPhone, we get to see the “legendary” industrial designer Jony Ive dictating us inside a white room how breathtakingly beautiful their new iPhone is, how much effort they put into making it amazing, awesome, “alu-mi-nium”, brilliant, sturdy, comfortable, and many other adjectives we are used to hearing by now in his soothing British accent. For all these years, I believed every single word. And year after year, Apple built beautifully designed iPhones one after another. But that opinion changed today after I used the all-new iPhone 6. Let me enlighten you why!
Back in 2012, just to prove their point that 4-inches is the absolute perfect size for a phone to be comfortable, Apple released a commercial named ‘Thumb’. Remember? It explained how our thumbs comfortably can travel from the top to bottom. They said it’s ‘common sense’ and you know what, I believed what Apple claimed. I’ve used the iPhone 5, and the similarly sized iPhone 5S. They naturally feel comfortable. But we don’t live in 2012 anymore, and bigger screen sizes are what consumers need, including me. It’s 2014, and I’m holding the all-new iPhone 6 which has a large 4.7-inch screen. Honestly, I was happy that Apple finally decided to increase the phone size from 4.0-inch to 4.7-inches. Since the last 3 years, having used many smartphones, I can assure you that a 4.7-inch size phone is the most comfortable to use for one hand operation. With that thought in mind, I was hoping the new iPhone 6 would be comfortable, as well as ‘breathtakingly beautiful’. But well, that isn’t entirely what I experienced after using it.
Let’s again go back in time to the year 2012. We already were using smartphones with sizes bigger than 4.0-inch. The most famous ones I recollect are Samsung Galaxy S3 (4.8-inch), Nexus 4 (4.7-inch), HTC One X (4.7-inch). All three were flagship devices with top-off-the-line hardware. I’ve used all three, even reviewed the beautiful One X, and let me tell you – they were all much more comfortable to use with one hand. Yes, you could easily reach from the top to bottom buttons with one-hand. One more thing, these three phones almost have the same weight, between 130-140 grams. Back then, they were slim. The S3 is 8.6mm thin, Nexus 4 is 9.1mm and One X is 8.9mm. The perfect combination of screen size, weight and slimness made them perfect for one hand use even back in 2012. It’s not just these three factors, they also had a curved back, making it a natural fit in your palm.
Today, after using the iPhone 6, I hate what Jony Ive has done with the design. This new iPhone is unnecessarily slim, 6.9mm to be precise. I’m not against building a slim phone, but you don’t make it slim just for the sake of winning a beauty competition. You don’t make it so slim that it trades off a good grip when held. Not saying that phones this slim are bad to hold; the Gionee S5.5 is even thinner at 5.5mm, but still feels better than iPhone 6. This is probably due to the curved edges on the iPhone 6, which to make matters worse are made of slippery aluminium. Despite it being 129 grams, it gives you the illusion of being uncomfortably light, a reason for that being uniform weight distribution on a bigger surface area.
The design of iPhone 6 is practically a 6.9mm box with rounded edges. Thank you for the edges, but no thank you for the flat back panel. The slim and light nature of the device definitely didn’t need a flat panel at the back. Having a slightly curved back is the only possible way to fix this. I’m not sure if Ive’s hands are naturally curved like the rest of us.
Let’s have a look at some current phones. The first gen Moto X, a 4.7-inch phone that weighs 130 grams which is just one gram more than the iPhone 6, still feels a lot better in hand. Ask why? Motorola didn’t compromise on the slimness. The device is 10.4mm thin and has a curved back panel. This is the best designed 4.7-inch phone. It’s the perfect balance of weight, slimness and body design. Just hold a Moto X and then hold an iPhone 6 in hand, and you’ll understand how screwed up is iPhone 6’s design. I agree that iPhones have been designed with flat backs since the past 4 years, but assuming a curved back isn’t something Apple wanted, then even a stretched out design of the current iPhone 5s would’ve worked out. Look at Sony’s ‘breathtakingly beautiful’ Z3 Compact. It has the exact same weight of the iPhone 6 (129 grams), and a minutely smaller 0.1 inch display (4.6-inch). Yet, it feels so much better. Sony didn’t stupidly make the phone slim. It shares the same thinness of the old Galaxy S3 – 8.6mm. This combination of weight and thinness, even makes the boxy design of Z3 Compact feel natural and comfortable in hand.
My complaint with Apple isn’t that they shouldn’t have made a 4.7-inch phone. My complaint is they didn’t make it right. Apple represents itself as a pioneer in industrial design. It’s disappointing that they failed with the iPhone 6. People have been using a better-designed 4.7-inch phone since 2012. I don’t see the point of owning a 53,000 rupee phone that’s design is flawed for my tastes. We spend a lot of time with our phones every day, and I don’t want something that’ll be uncomfortable to hold every time I pick it up. It may be the best iPhone Apple has made, but definitely not the best-designed smartphone in the market.
If you wish to own it, I’ll recommend getting a case to add the needed extra weight and thickness. The sales for cases and covers are definitely going up. And if this was bad, I just can’t imagine how the iPhone 6 Plus will feel since it’s basically a stretched out iPhone 6.