Above Avalon’s first impressions of Apple’s iPhone X: ‘An entirely new iPhone experience’

“After 10 years, the iPhone business is displaying signs of maturity. The days of significant sales growth are in the rearview mirror. The upgrade cycle is getting longer as it becomes that much harder to get people to upgrade their iPhones,” Neil Cybart writes for Above Avalon. “Apple was faced with a choice: Stick with the familiar and milk the iPhone business for all it’s worth, or throw familiarity out the window to pave a new iPhone journey for the next 10 years. Apple chose the latter…”

“With iPhone X, two design changes stand out: the removal of the front-facing home button and Face ID replacing Touch ID,” Cybart writes. “The changes amount to nothing short of an entirely new iPhone experience.”

“The best way to describe the feeling found when using iPhone X is that it’s the closet thing to using an iPhone from an alternative universe,” Cybart writes. “There is this fresh, or reinvigorating, feeling to it – as if the home button was holding the iPhone experience back, representing a barrier to interacting with software. No other iPhone update has been able to elicit such a strong feeling. It is also easy to see where Apple wants to take iPhone over the next ten years…”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We agree.

And, now, we’re going to take issue with Cybart’s defense of Apple’s ill-conceived notch:

Cybart: The way Apple wraps the iPhone X screen around the TrueDepth camera system (a.k.a the notch) has been a polarizing topic in the run up to this week’s launch. Some people think the notch is bad design. This camp argues Apple shouldn’t have included a visual gap in the screen. Renderings showing various iPhone X apps in portrait mode, which clearly look odd at first, have given this camp a decent number of supporters. However, in what likely isn’t a coincidence, the ‘notch is bad design’ camp has been quiet when it comes to offering or suggesting better alternatives.

MacDailyNews: Incorrect. Not only haven’t we been the least bit quiet, we’ve offered up a better alternative, as Neil knows full well:

 
As we wrote back in September upon iPhone X’s reveal, a far better, much more elegant, better looking and better functioning design solution than the one at which Apple’s Jony Ive & Co. and/or Craig Federighi inexplicably arrived, courtesy of Nodus and Gordon Kelly via Forbes from back in July shows how iPhone X’s notch should have been handled:

iPhone X notch un-botched by Forbes' Gordon Kelly and Nodus
iPhone X notch un-botched by Forbes’ Gordon Kelly and Nodus

 

iPhone X notch un-botched by Forbes' Gordon Kelly and Nodus
iPhone X notch un-botched by Forbes’ Gordon Kelly and Nodus

We would’ve made all four corners the same arc, but you get the idea. Even if the status bars simply stayed “sideways” when in landscape, this is a more elegant solution than Apple’s current kludge. The simple solution is oftentimes better.

Ive & Co.’s design choice is even more inexplicable when you realize they already have the answer staring them in the face all day: The Mac’s menu bar.

Alrighty then.
Alrighty then.
Cybart: Including extra bezel to the left and right of the TrueDepth camera system, like every other smartphone manufacturer currently does with their front-facing camera, isn’t a better solution. One wouldn’t be able to use that space to display information such the date, time, battery indicator, carrier signal, etc.

MacDailyNews: One most certainly would be able to use that space to display information such the date, time, battery indicator, carrier signal, etc. It’s not a matter of screen real estate vs. dead space. Those ears can still be used for information. Apple should have simply reserved it for themselves. It’s where the time, cell signal and Wi-Fi signal strength, and battery indicators live – on a deep black background, thanks. We trust Apple somewhere still has someone with the design chops to make those work in landscape, too. Asking every iOS developer on earth to design around a black flap occluding the display is lunacy. It’s the wrong choice. iPhone X’s notch is bad design.

Cybart: Much like the home button, the “notch” will be quickly forgotten. It just melts away after a few hours of use. Let’s not beat around the bush – an iPhone X without any notch would obviously be the closest representation to Apple’s vision of hardware melting away to just leave the user interacting with software. However, the technology for such a feat just isn’t available today (although Apple R&D suggests the company is working at it). But Apple sure comes close to that perfection, even when taking into account the notch.

MacDailyNews: The hallmark of great design: Something that the designers, the users, and the apologists all hope “will be quickly forgotten.”

The “notch” is ill-conceived. It’s a design abomination. It’s an inelegant kludge. It requires developers to literally design around it.

Cybart: I don’t think it’s fair to say that the way Apple wraps the screen around the TrueDepth camera system was some kind of major compromise. Instead of Apple redesigning iPhone to remove the notch next year or the following year, there is a much higher likelihood of Samsung and other smartphone manufacturers embracing some version of the notch as the extra bezel found on Galaxy S8 or Pixel 2 XL really does stand out in a negative way when positioned next to iPhone X… In fact, the notch replaces the home button as a defining characteristic of the device – a way for the phone to stand out from competitors. The notch ends up being iPhone X branding.

MacDailyNews: Branding that cannot be protected is worthless (see literally the entire history of iPhone to see how well Apple’s trade dress has been protected by the “justice” system). It’ll be knocked off quicker than… Oh, wait, it’s already been knocked off. Say “hello” to China’s innovative and oh-so-unique Android-based Hotwav Symbol S3:

The Hotwav Symbol S3 reminds us of something. So much for branding via notch.
The Hotwav Symbol S3 reminds us of something. Hmmm…

 
So much for branding via notch.

Regarding iPhone X’s notch, Cybart is wrong.

SEE ALSO:
Apple reminds developers to design around iPhone X’s notch – October 28, 2017
We’ll get used to iPhone X’s ugly notch, even if we don’t end up liking it – October 23, 2017
Sloppiness: Apple’s inconsistent iPhone X design guides show attention to detail is no longer a priority – October 13, 2017
It’s not all screen: Apple’s stretching the truth with iPhone X marketing – October 3, 2017
Joshua Topolsky: Apple is really bad at design – October 1, 2017
Apple’s botched ‘notch’ atop iPhone X’s display is a design abomination – September 15, 2017
Apple is turning a design quirk into the iPhone X’s defining feature: Leaning into the notch – September 14, 2017
The lessons and questions of Apple’s iPhone X and iPhone 8 – September 13, 2017
Apple embraces that ugly notched cutout in OLED ‘iPhone’s display – August 30, 2017
It’s time we embraced Apple’s notched/cutout OLED iPhone display – August 11, 2017

41 Comments

  1. I’m generally in agreement with MDN on this one. Your unbotched notch just makes so much sense.

    If I can imagine what happened to Apple, they ended up having to accommodate the new swipe up motion to return to the home screen and move control center to swipe down from the top. In order to differentiate control center from notifications they needed a design prompt – thus the notched wings. Would be better to come up with a NEW gesture for pulling control center from the bottom.

    1. There are two problems with the “notchless” design that MDN prefers. First, it isn’t a design. It is a rendering. A lot of people can render a nice looking smartphone (after studying an iPhone, of course), but only Apple actually designs a fully functional iPhone. The difference is roughly 10^5 in terms of relative difficulty. Second, it isn’t notchless at all. The ears on either side are simply filled in the rendering. But you have no idea how it would really *work*. Finally, while acknowledging that Apple could place indicators in the same locations bordering the notch, MDN fails to admit that that solution is functionally pretty much identical to the rendering that gives them such joy.

      Look, MDN. You used to be edgy and in touch with the Apple user angst from the 1990s. But you lost SteveJack (apparently your Steve Jobs) and in recent years most of your takes have sounded more like Grandpa from the Simpsons – either whiny or out of touch. And you repeat yourself so darn much. Is it getting that difficult to generate an original Take?

      1. Yes, thank you for pointing out the fact that photoshopping a design is not actually making the product with all of the engineering, production, etc challenges. Anyone can whine and anyone can be an armchair designer.

        As others have noted, I cannot imagine a problem more insignificant than this notch. It’s really absurd. I don’t care about the notch, I will enjoy my iPhone X, thank you very much. Won’t lose any sleep over it.

        And in fact, the more these whiners complain, the more I like the notch. Without their complaints, I wouldn’t have thought about it. Now I do like it as a symbol, a branding of the product. So bring on the notch!

      2. First off, MDN is better than ever. Your fantasy avatar does NOTHING to take that away except possibly give you a rise in your shorts. Melvin, is that you?

        Second: MDN has evolved from a purist fanboy site to one of detailed fair analysis, effusive praise and spot on criticism. I’ve been reading from the beginning and certainly noticed a smart maturity evolved here over time.

        The “notch” simply SUCKS! You and the rest of the apologist fanboy ILK like it — hey, all power to you. I have no plans to buy X until it is gone. So, looking forward to XI next year.

        Three reasons the “notch” fails:

        1: Apple in non-denial denial RARE fashion issued a warning to developers to design AROUND the “notch.”

        2: See number one.

        3: if it still has not sunk in fanboys, take your time and read number one, again.

        The iPhone concept illustration examples MDN published clearly show a SUPERIOR design alternative that is cleaner, less obtrusive to the eye and more importantly, does not send developers back to the drawing board to make a design BOTCH work better. Well, when the notch is gone they will have to go back again.

        For those fanboys making proclamations of physics, engineering and design EXCUSES about how the concept designs cannot be engineered, dream on.

        Apple can design ANYTHING …

  2. I’m proudly with cybart and really MDNs rabid whinging truly is getting pathetic now after 100th repeat, indeed to coin a phrase they are familiar with, it’s become Microsoftian in its monotony.

    1. You can’t coin a phrase that MacDailyNews already coined, genius.

      That notch is emblematic of Apple’s poor decision making post-Jobs. See Mac Pro,Siri Remote, etc.

      1. Brutal Truth, allow me to be brutal. Just because you say something, that doesn’t make it actual truth. In addition, there were plenty of iffy designs in the Jobs years. He was not always right by any means, although I certainly wish that Jobs was still around to share his passion for insanely great products and cast his critical eye on every concept. I think that Jobs made other people excel just as much as he contributed ideas on his own.

        One more thing…you cannot point to every single thing and declare it to be “emblematic” of a long term trend or dire future. It just doesn’t work that way. That little gem of wisdom may help a few others on this forum, as well, who are all too fond of their own viewpoints, regardless of merit.

      1. The 3D Face ID module works pretty much close to perfection. So what’s the problem? Most front-engine cars have a grill for the radiator because it’s necessary, whether you like it or not. However, the Tesla doesn’t because it doesn’t have a radiator.

        Most people who have reviewed the iPhone X say they get used to the module and barely notice it after awhile. You can beat a dead horse all you want but the 3D module is there for a reason and will stay there until at least the next iPhone version.

        1. Apple critics don’t know the meaning of the metaphor “beating a dead horse.” Trolls know when to give up and seek a new paymaster, but Apple critics are like Confederate sympathisers: they are true believers, and revel in repeated, formulaic bashing of an organisation that has won over everyone and everything except for them and their backwater concerns.

          1. If I could tape on the facial recognition module in notch form, then I would. Since I cannot, your snappy comeback lacks…snap.

            If you do not like the notch, then keep your current phone, buy and iPhone 8/8 plus, or go Android. But, if you purchase an iPhone X, then you have knowingly and intentionally bought the notch, at which point you lose all rights to gripe. That is the rule of personal responsibility. It ought to be a freaking Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

        1. Though the puck mouse was a dead-end, it was a sign of SJ’s proactivity…he was trying to direct the user–as he was known to do. Also, You can’t replace the screen as you could for another mouse. The notch is a reactive result….for machine “controlled” the designers. I’ll bet all of my net worth, they didn’t start out wanting to create the best notch ever.
          Per the Flower Power…pretty adventurous in my mind, considering the fact the the overwhelming success and many options of the iMac allowed for some design forays.

    1. DavGreg – I truly laughed out loud to this post. We Americans, complaining about the aesthetics of a $1150 phone! Don’t worry. I’ve already ordered mine (11/3 delivery!) But, really people. Shut up about the notch and focus your energies on things that are worth your emotions.

    2. DG: reading a book on the Founding Fathers and “leisure class” is an oft used phrase as they struggled to build a different structure w/o monarchy. I guess we are acting like the leisure class as we ponder notch imperatives. Excuse me, Edward, my butler just brought lunch.

  3. I haven’t seen anyone else posit (what I believe to be) the most obvious theory as to why Apple went with “the notch”; Because Samsung, having gotten to the “edge to edge” party first, got IP on the obvious “unbotched notch” solution, and effectively blocked Apple from legally using that particular design solve.

    If true, Apple would do exactly what they’ve done; embrace the notch in all their marketing, not say much about it directly, drone on about its “groundbreaking design” (yada yada), and (I’m hoping here) quietly support third-party apps that apply the “unbotched notch” as an option.

    It’s a theory anyway…

  4. “Regarding iPhone X’s notch, Cybart is wrong.”
    The “notch” makes the bezel width appear to be the same all around the phone, a more elegant look than the Samsung products. The iPhone X is elegant, beautiful. Sales will be “off the charts”.

  5. The more I look at MDNs rendering the more I hate it.
    Weird curves at the top are off-putting. The bezel at the top being different from the top is off putting.

    The more I look at Apples version the more I love it.

  6. “Apple has notched another success because.. ”
    “the iPhone X is a notch above the rest”
    “Really a top notch Phone !”
    “for rivals to even taste Apple’s dust they would have to rev up a few notches”
    “Ha! for bad Android OEMs even if they want to copy it would be difficult notchy move”
    “I say it’s one more notch on Apple’s belt”

    I can ‘notch’antly keep making bad puns like these.

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