Apple’s big risk: iPhone X the most radical iPhone ever

“During its inaugural event at Steve Jobs Theater last month, Apple unveiled three flagship iPhones,” Neil Cybart writes for Above Avalon. “Management dedicated 20 minutes of stage time to iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, models clearly positioned within the existing iPhone paradigm.”

“Attention then turned to iPhone X, which garnered nearly twice as much stage time,” Cybart writes. “While the ‘X’ stands for ten, it could have very well stood for extreme. iPhone X will be the most radical iPhone Apple has sold to date. The home button has been removed to fit a larger screen in a smaller form factor. This change, which was years in the making, ushers in a completely new iPhone experience. Users will have to retrain their finger reflex to not press the bottom of the screen and instead, get used to swipes. In addition, the removal of fingerprint recognition in favor of facial recognition represents a very big change in how we will use iPhone. A strong argument can be made that removing the home button is the single-biggest change Apple has made to iPhone. The sheer amount of risk found in the move is being grossly underestimated.”

“The home button has come to represent safety for hundreds of millions of people. In just a few years, Touch ID and fingerprint recognition became universally accepted because of their connection with the convenient iPhone home button. Apple is taking this familiar design and throwing it out the window in an attempt to push the iPhone experience forward,” Cybart writes. “Although Apple is confident consumers will embrace the changes, the confidence sure isn’t a result of consumers demanding or wishing for these changes. Instead, Apple designers and engineers are throwing away legacy thinking in order come up with something new.”

Much more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Users will retrain themselves rather quickly, we expect. As Face ID spreads to every Apple product with a camera (Hello, iPad! Hello, Mac! Hello, future-gen Apple TV!), the Home button and Touch ID will become a fond memory, like ADB ports.


  1. Apple will sell every iPhone X the company can make. The only issue will be constraint of supply. The notch controversy is interesting, but it will have absolutely no effect on sales. I actually like the way the phone looks, but I understand why some people wish the top border of the screen was a smooth horizontal line.

    1. Of course it will affect sales, the question is how much. We won’t know until the first users get their phones in a month and start reviewing them. The reality is that the usable screen space is less than on the 8+. Personally I’d like a plus-sized phone that is all screen. iPhones are superior to Android phones in almost every way, except in screen size. I constantly see 6″+ phones, while Apple seems to be chronically 2-3 years behind in this department.

  2. notch does bother me one bit, don’t want a samsung lookalike anyway, apple produced the X for themselves just as mr jobs would have not for apple pundits et al

    1. Stuck: advocating the notch as a positive differentiator of the iPh X from Samsung, means you’re a little kou-kou. Nuttiest rationale for a silly design decision. Please read the earlier post “Attraction to the Ideal” about he iPh X marketing.

  3. This notch controversy is overblown by the self-appointed and outspoken minority. I believe most consumers won’t have a problem with it (same goes for the iPhone chin bezel). One would think a person who claims to be some tech expert would understand why it exists and why Apple used the space where the module doesn’t extend to. Sure, I’d be happy to have no bezels top or bottom but if Apple is unable to completely remove the forehead bezel then I’ll happily accept the notch. It’s just not that big of a distraction to me. For those who don’t like it, they shouldn’t buy the iPhone X. As far as Apple is concerned, it’s a done deal and that’s all there is to it.

    I hear the critics whining about how the iPhone 8 has an antiquated design but then they’re not happy with the iPhone X, either. Most high-end flagship smartphones are quite awesome devices and constantly nitpicking about their flaws just seems rather ridiculous. Smartphones take the place of so many devices it’s just amazing they exist.

    1. Mag748: your rational explicitly shows Apple should’t hire you to work on product design. Letting consumers determine the success of an item’s design is absurd…and I’m not talking about units sold. I’m talking about what has always separated Apple from the broad market…exquisite execution of form/function_Design. Not to inflame, but your statement, “Sure, I’d be happy to have no bezels top or bottom but if Apple is unable to completely remove the forehead bezel then I’ll happily accept the notch” speaks of design compromise. The Ideal is NOT a screen with a notch/crotch/irregularity…that’s all. Someone said “yes” to a miss of the Ideal. Instead of saying “accept the notch” I admit Apple faltered/compromised. That’s all.

  4. More radical than the first— and by far most comfortable — iPhone? I think not. Feature wise it is just polishing the concepts Samsung has offered for years.

    Of course it will be better. It’ll be more polished and have the best chipset. But that ain’t radical by any measure.

  5. This is a great article by someone who has obviously been following and understanding Apple for a loooong time. One of Steve Jobs core values was embracing change. That takes courage. Most (I mean like 99%) managers at big companies would either not make changes for fear of being embarrassed or make changes for the sake of making changes (yes, that is exactly what Samsung does.) Apple is very deliberate when they make changes. And they always piss people off in the process because most people do everything they can to resist and deny change.
    I think it is a remarkable piece of product marketing that Apple so wisely embraced change with the X while hedging their bets with the iPhone 8 and 8+. Shows just how big the stakes are. That they have supply issues with the X proves that their contingency plans with the 8 were spot on. I don’t think people realize just how hard it is to pull this off.

  6. The notch issue will be overcome soon, but will Apple’s serial lying be easily overcome that the notch is not really there because, you know, the front is edge to edge?

  7. No the ONLY reason we lost the fingerprint is because Apple couldn’t fix the problem (screen issue) in time for launch so it will return in the next itineration of X along with the loss of the Screen Tab as both are make do compromises.

  8. I say the first iPhone was the most radical – it changed the whole industry and how we used these devices. iPhoneX is the next big leap. I am impressed by Apple keeping to its culture and traditions.

  9. Face ID is the future. What we learned from the launch was that it took years to perfect, and the under display Touch ID was the back-up plan. Once released almost everyone will want Face ID. The home button will be quickly forgotten. Full screen displays, with or without the notch, will become the standard. Apple innovates again and leads us to new visions of how technology should work.

  10. “Instead, Apple designers and engineers are throwing away legacy thinking in order come up with something new.”

    Of course, that is what Apple does. If there is any doubt that at least some of Jobs’ DNA survives, then the iPhone X should put that to rest. No other company would have innovated past Touch ID.

    “A strong argument can be made that removing the home button is the single-biggest change Apple has made to iPhone. The sheer amount of risk found in the move is being grossly underestimated.”

    The amount of opportunity enabled by the elimination of the home button is being even more grossly underestimated. Apple has a way of making these major leaps in technology work, and work very well.

    In addition, analysts should take into account that two of the three new iPhone models include an LCD display and home button with Touch ID. If the iPhone X turns out to have a lot of problems, then Apple can go back to the drawing board while continuing to sell the iPhone 8/8+ and incrementally update it for next year’s iPhone 9/9+.

    However, if the iPhone X is a smash success, then Apple has just leaped ahead once again and charted the new course for smartphones going into the next decade.

    Apple is not afraid to take chances. But everyone else appears to be. It is far easier to criticize someone else than to actually accomplish something yourself. There are a *lot* of criticizers on this forum…

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