Apple surely has lots of whiz-bang new features planned for the new flagship iPhone this fall, but the number one feature on my wish list this year is a radical new design. Given the choice between a new iPhone with the same design plus new features like wireless charging and facial recognition or a new iPhone with a new design and no new features, I’d absolutely choose the new design.
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Luckily at least one new iPhone model this year is expected to include both whiz-bang features and a radical new design according to rumors and reports, but the lack of case design leaks so far made me think about the possibility of only getting new features in an iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus with the same design.
This may only apply to customers as close to the day-to-day Apple news as I am (although I suspect it applies more broadly), but the iPhone 7 design sticking so close to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s design has put an even greater emphasis on needing a big leap forward this year to keep the excitement.
We’re still expecting new iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus phones with updated specs this year, but that’s likely only because the real flagship is expected to come at a premium cost and be supply constrained.
Focusing so much on how the iPhone looks versus how it works doesn’t make logical sense when you can argue that new features make it more capable, but I really think how it looks is something a lot of people care about. That’s especially true when the feature set of the iPhone aside from design is as advanced as it is right now.
Samsung has already been doing things with the display that make the iPhone look stale, although they tend to botch overall design with other distasteful elements (not the mention the Note 7 combustion incident).
I still wouldn’t consider switching from an iPhone to a Samsung phone, but the new Samsung Galaxy S8 introduced today shows how much progress Apple can make this year with the iPhone design.
Using iOS versus Android is the biggest reason for me to stick with the iPhone. The whole ecosystem (including Apple Watch for me) is very sticky and I’m overall happy with the experience. But I have to admit that the front of the Samsung Galaxy S8 makes me envious as an iPhone user (even if the backs of iPhones all look way better than the backs of Samsung phones).
It’s not just about how it looks. Samsung and other Android smartphone makers have been making better large screen phones than Apple for a while now. Larger phones are harder to use with one hand. That’s why Apple stuck to smaller phones for a while, then added Reachability as a software trick on larger phones.
Shrinking the bezel (especially the chin and forehead) on the iPhone will go a long way in terms of making larger iPhones easier to use, and that’s what we’re expecting to see this year if the rumors pan out.
My biggest point of dissatisfaction is choosing between a smaller iPhone that’s easier to handle for me or a larger one with better features like Portrait mode. The rumors point to a 5.8-inch display in a body with similar dimensions to the 4.7-inch iPhone 7.
Assuming Apple manages to pack all the flagship features like Portrait mode and wider landscape support into the new model, that should be a compelling device based on design advances alone before you consider the bells and whistles.