As a designer you can't help but think about weird stuff. I can't help but imagine that if curious space aliens with no knowledge of human artifacts came to this planet and went through my apartment, they'd initially find little to distinguish one possession from another. But I'd be willing to wager that it is the iPhone 4, amidst the clutter of objects on my desk, that they would pick up and begin inquisitively licking or running their antennae over or what have you.
The new iPhone is currently the standout object on my desk, this thing that looks like a mere black rectangle from across the room but starts to look like something very different at the range it's meant to be used at. Holding it, you understand at once why Apple has physical stores; while you can watch iPhone commercials or see print campaigns about its features, when you first hold this exquisitely-crafted object you have a different experience entirely, one that cannot be adequately conveyed in two dimensions. Having seen countless photos of the device in advance, I was still surprised by the real thing when I popped it out of the box and touched it.
"A big part of the experience of a physical object has to do with the materials," says Jonathan Ive, Apple's Senior Vice President of Design, during a brief chat with Core77. "[At Apple] we experiment with and explore materials, processing them, learning about the inherent properties of the material--and the process of transforming it from raw material to finished product; for example, understanding exactly how the processes of machining it or grinding it affect it. That understanding, that preoccupation with the materials and processes, is [very] essential to the way we work."
It is this sort of materials obsession and constant experimentation that led to a decision to use scratch-resistant aluminosilicate glass for the front and back of the phone, as well as developing their own variant of stainless steel to edge the device. When you see the breaks, the three little black reveals that interrupt the band, in photographs, you could be forgiven for assuming you're seeing three separate strips of metal with gaps in between; but in fact it's all one piece.
"Those three black splits are co-molded in, and then the band goes through more processes," Ive points out. "So it's assembled first, the band, and then the final machining and grinding are performed, so the tolerances are extraordinary.... Whatever people's feelings are about the actual design of the product is of course subjective. But objectively I can say that the manufacturing tolerances are phenomenal. And we determined this, we designed it from the very beginning to meet those goals."
The goals have been well-met, and on the subject of phenomenal tolerances, when you see the phone be sure to check out the insanely thin reveal around the hatch for the Micro SIM card on the side; I've never seen that kind of tolerance on something I could actually afford to buy. Upon seeing it my first thought was I will never pop that open, because I'm convinced it will never close again. "I assure you, it will," Ive laughs. "The amount of care that went into that SIM tray is extraordinary. To achieve this kind of build quality is extraordinarily hard work and requires care across so many teams. It demands incredibly close collaboration with experts in certain areas, material sciences and so on."
That last part reminds me that there must have been a sizeable team behind the iPhone 4, and Ive confirms it, mentioning the importance of collaboration between engineering, manufacturing and design. It is an intense interplay between these fields that can yield mastery of the material, which is where everything starts with this object. "The best design explicitly acknowledges that you cannot disconnect the form from the material--the material informs the form," says Ive. "It is the polar opposite of working virtually in CAD to create an arbitrary form that you then render as a particular material, annotating a part and saying 'that's wood' and so on. Because when an object's materials, the materials' processes and the form are all perfectly aligned, that object has a very real resonance on lots of levels. People recognize that object as authentic and real in a very particular way."
For the sake of Core77's design student readership, I divert briefly into the realm of design education and ask Ive if he has any advice for students. "While [design schools today may have] sophisticated virtual design tools, the danger in relying on them too much is that we can end up isolated from the physical world," he says. "In our quest to quickly make three-dimensional objects, we can miss out on the experience of making something that helps give us our first understandings of form and material, of the way a material behaves--'I press too hard here, and it breaks here' and so on. Some of the digital rendering tools are impressive, but it's important that people still really try and figure out a way of gaining direct experience with the materials."
It is that direct experience, the hands-on, that is the key; like experiencing the iPhone 4 itself, it cannot be done without the physical connection. "It's very hard to learn about materials academically, by reading about them or watching videos about them; the only way you truly understand a material is by making things with it," Ive explains, going on to add that years upon years of making his own models with his own hands is what gave him a deep understanding of the materials he's worked. "And it's important to develop that appetite to want to make something, to be inquisitive about the material world, to want to truly understand a material on that level."
And what about when students graduate and become working designers? Absent the structured assignments of a Production Methods or Materials class, how ought designers stay abreast of materials? The best place for it to happen, of course, is in the workplace itself. "For a designer to continually learn about materials is not extracurricular," Ive points out, "it's absolutely essential."
[To read our first impressions on the iPhone 4, click here.]
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Best Tech Quote I've heard yet! FTW
"Apple: Tools for Tools by Tools."
Dudes, git ur heads out of the sand! SOFTWARE IS JUST A TOOL DONT RELY ON IT TOO MUCH! BTW the Apple ID group is the only division/ department at Apple allowed to use PC's, you gits! And with Bootcamp......... :P Duh!
I dont imagine these guys at Apple in front of Unigraphics or Alias (sure, they do spend their time there as well) but they are in the workshop with hand-files, in front of the Bridgeport, lathe, micrometers. I recon if I worked at Apple, had access to all those materials, I would be!
@Col3man- The true sign of an insecure Designer is on that derides others than trying to help them better their vision- just like I did at the beginning of this blurb, so let's all grow up a bit!
By the way this is for all my french designers in here, I hope u'll visit my blog about design technologies, industrial process, materials, products terminology....The goal is to reunite every resources on my blog because a lot of the interesting articles on the web are ...in english.
The english version is coming soon.
Did form suppress function here? Did utility get forgotten? Did the pursuit of revenue blind those who should be pursuing quality?
Perhaps Jon and Steve are the latest victims of the Pollyanna principle.
I believe it's torx "tamperproof", to prevent people from fixing their own devices (sigh).
At everyone concerned with the design of the device:
The design is great, in many ways. The tolerances ARE extremely impressive. But I wonder: when the phone does break, or become obsolete, as it will do eventually, will all of the materials safely decompose or be efficiently recycled?
Since more than one here pointed out that human beings are breakable, just as the iphone, I feel compelled to address whoever wrote "Is your head breakable?":
Yes, it is. But, if the damage is not to severe, it will heal. If I die, my body will decompose, bringing nutrition to the soil. That's great design.
Expect more, complain less, stop arguing about banalities.
Less sarcasm, more thinking.
I angrily went to pick it up, thinking this thing was going to be shattered to pieces, but no. The screen was still in pristine condition. I couldn't find a -knick- on it. The only injuries I could find were on the plastic: two scuff marks.
Now, the iPhone 4's glass is MUCH stronger than the 3Gs which I myself have seen withstand major trauma (fling your phone down a concrete staircase and see if it survives with minimal damage). And you people think you're going to harm this by dropping it on a -desk-? Take a piece of glass from a helicopter windshield and slam it onto your desk. Think it'll break?
'Should be an easy fix with a transparent clear coat.'
At times I too think of clear coats, but when it's handled excessively, just the acid from your skin 'will' cause it to degrade and it will either peel or flake.
If Apple wasn't so secretive by using artificial cases to simulate the 3GS phone in the field, they would of noticed the signal problems early on as that case provided enough insulation for the field test engineers not to notice anything wrong.
However, there is a hubris in their products that chafes me and is, in my view, the reason for the backlash about the signal attenuation. When you project that you are the smartest guys in the room and miss, people like to see you fall.
The issue with antenna is unforgivable. It is not present to the same extent in other phones and it is not caused by the FCC specifications (all phones will suffer attenuation when you cover the antenna which does need to be near the bottom). It is due to the fact that the antenna is uninsulated and can be touched by bare hands. Take off your fanboy hats and think about it for a second. Does any other product available that operates in a similar spectrum have an uninsulated antenna? No cell phone (even the old whips were dipped in plastic). No wifi hardware. No bluetooth object.
So in short, a beautiful object, but currently a handicapped one. Should be an easy fix with a transparent clear coat.
To all people calling the other posters "haters", i would assume you guys are fanboys. You give other Apple users a bad image. I have the iPhone4 and Im experiencing the signal problems... Does that make my problem irrelevant? NO! The problem isnt minor as you guys think, my other friends have it too. You should go look at the posts in Engadget, Gizmodo and Techcrunch... They tested it and it's very clear there's a problem.
With regards to Ive's post, it is ironic because he talks about working with materials etc. and here you have an antenna that was supposedly well designed but in reality is problematic. It's really frustrating. The iPhone 4 is a brilliant device but a sucky phone.
Having said that, this doesnt mean Ive sucks... they just made a mistake. It happens to people. They just need to admit it.
Antennae? Oops. Aliens, this is a no-issue issue. So stop it.
I pre-ordered the iPhone 4 and found the reception issue problems - when you EXPERIENCE them you realize just how bad it is with the affected handsets. Holding my iPhone 4 drops the signal strength from 5 bars to "Searching..." (i.e. no signal).
Perhaps its just a limited group of handsets - but either way, mine is going back to Apple for a refund - I'll buy another later in the year when this first batch is gone.
Love the phone - but this issue is TOO big a flaw to overlook.
This is where I insert a snarky response having something to do with VMWare Fusion or Parallels.
Abject nonsense. Apple were not about to invest tens or hundreds of $M to produce a device that did not make it through the FCC checks, and they employ a LOT of EE's.
The reception difficulties that have been written about on the web should be viewed in context: iP4 is as good as most smartphones and hella better than iP1-3. Apple (obviously) did the tests and found a tradeoff that would be acceptable to the vast majority of their users.
The glass thing I can understand - "glass" is something we think of breakable because of the poor quality and cheap glass 99% of our experience is with (just like when you hear "salt" you think of table salt, not the thousands of other salts).
However I've seen a nail bashed into wood with a Gorilla Glass phone - this is not your normal glass.
Apple did not use Gorilla Glass, which is not a type of glass, but a brand name for a chemically strengthened glass. I am not sure if it is stronger or weaker then the aluminosilicate glass Apple used, but it is not the strongest glass. Gorilla Glass is a great glass, as far as the strength to thickness ratio, hence why Corning is pushing it for use in electronics. I would be willing to bet even if Apple wanted to use Gorilla glass, they would chose not to, simply because they like to have a strangle hold on their supply chain and find the lowest and Dow-Corning is the only maker of Gorilla Glass.
See here for a good explanation of the various types of glass:
While the tolerance and materials on the new iPhone are indeed amazing, there was zero excuse for allowing direct electrical contact between the iPhone antenna and the users hand. I wonder if Apple had even one antenna design specialist..considering they are currently looking for three!
And for those that think tolerances don't matter or material choice is obvious (or obviously wrong), come back with your phone design. Then we'll talk.
The sub-moronic comments from the Apple Haters are pretty entertaining, too.
Furthermore, I've actually see iPhone users who've cracked their screen continue using their device for months or more. Just last month I was on a plane with a guy using an iPod touch that had multiple cracks in the screen. He was listening to music, playing games and even reading websites with it.
If you knew much about the signal issue, you'd realize it's less of an issue than it's been made out to be. As many have said, this affects every phone in existence. More importantly, the dramatic effect of this signal degradation isn't evident unless you're already in a sketchy signal situation. It just happens that AT&T's network craps out in a number of locations and the "magic spot" is in a place where many people like to hold their phone.
It's not like the phone will drop every call every time you touch this spot. The moisture level of your skin, the signal quality of the network, and interference from other devices all come into play. Then, when you consider that a good portion of iPhone users also use a case for their iPhone by choice - which generally eliminates the problem entirely - really, how much of a "problem" is this?
It's not that you can't hold it bare - it's that in certain circumstances, the way you hold it could affect signal quality. This is NOT a universal problem. There are far too many factors that play into it. As long as you don't bridge the visible gap between the antennae on the lower left, you'll be fine.
Is it a glaring oversight? Sure? Is it something Apple detractors will harp on? Absolutely. Will it keep them from selling iPhones? Nope.
Yes, when I don't care about an article on a website, I leave a snarky comment to demonstrate my superiority. Oh wait...
Um, no, it doesn't. I remember seeing a drop-test of iPhone 4. They dropped it repeatedly on concrete and it did not break. Only after repeated drops did the glass finally break.
This might come as a sock to you, but the glass in the iPhone is not your typical windows-glass.
As to reception-issues... Of course the people who have the problem are making a lot of noose about it, the multitude who do not have any issues ate not saying anything. Besides, other phones have similar problems as well.
And furthermore: it does not matter that much if the phone loses some signal-strength if it has better reception to begin with. And all reviews agree that iPhone 4 has a lot better reception than previous iPhones do.
So get some perspective, please.
"I've never seen that kind of tolerance on something I could actually afford to buy."
Lego has at least the same kind of tolerances, and is in fact one of the things most people have used with the tightest tolerances of anything. Put 2 pieces together and study the joint. It's in fact more precise than that SIM slot on the iPhone 4. Lego stands out in that each piece is made to attache precisely, and still be detachable by the hands of a child, time and time again.
Rote comment of the moment on antenna interference doesn't mean much once you know about it. My iPhone stays on my belt and I answer and talk on BT earpiece anyway.
I have thrown away dozens of cell-phones in over two decades, but still have every iPhone from the 1st launch day. One died by immersion but that was not the fault of the iPhone. Compared to the dozens of other phones I've had, the iPhone would represent an order of magnitude increase in reliability and function hands down.
Complaints are "relative" and just not justified in my opinion.
Psst: Macs have been capable of running Windows, and hence Windows-only software, for quite a number of years now.
But don't let a little thing like that stop you from hating anything that has to do with Apple.
(I am not affiliated with them; I just wish they had been around in my college years.)
My first iPhone slipped from a hooded sweatshirt, met the ground and cracked the glass. A few weeks later my son managed to finish off the phone by playing bounce with it.
GENIUS ALERT: Phone with glass, buy a guard! My 2nd iPhone got wrapped with a rubber cushion and I've had it for quitter a few years with no issue whatsoever. Add to that, the phone accompanies me on my boat while fishing and is handled with salty hands (gotta AirMe those fishing pics) all the time. The enclosure has protected this highly sophisticated electronic device from "the elements", and my destructive patterns and done quite well.
I'm not a design student or professional, but to see the visceral reaction to Ives as I see it here, with no regard to the actual design philosophy that he (and Apple) embrace, leads me to believe that there are many here who are blinded to objectivity, simply based on a personal preference (or dislike for Apple).
When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Bunch of moronic comments, as usual.
Well, maybe, but make sure they don't lick it on the lower left corner or they won't be able to phone home.
I can report that the signal problem has not impacted me at all. The phone works great for me in all respects, and sound/call quality is far superior to my old iPhone.
Among 1.7 million customers you are bound to come up with some strange issues. For me, I can report the Retina Display is stunning, design is first-class, and I couldn't be more pleased.
I don't have patience for the artistic stuff when basic functionality is terrible.
as for the iphone4, if you hold one you'll realize its largely academic because you rarely if ever cup the thing next to your head. you hold it with your fingertips. try it.
non-issue. even the tech mags are saying they get fewer dropped calls, better reception, etc...
Could the iPhone have even better reception? Of course. They could have stuck an enormous antenna out of the side of it and you would probably have somewhat better reception. Or they could have coated the antenna in rubber. But instead, they decided to let you decide if you need that coating of rubber. Most probably won't need it. I don't expect to ever get a case for mine.
I do appreciate the nice form of the sides and the usability they afford in picture taking and video watching, something that would be somewhat worse if the sides had been coated in slick plastic or sticky rubber. We pay Apple to predict what is best for most consumers, not to cater to stat-brained non-users.
Both zid and K above are right. The truth is somewhere in the middle. This an "ultraportable" computing device, meaning that it will be abused more than any other kind of computing device. If you were to leave your iPhone 4 on a desk all day long, never moving it from its spot, it's going to wear just fine. Unfortunately, this is not the case. These devices get abused because they are with us all the time. They are as prone to break as we are prone to break.
If, from a design perspective, people in *real* ID have no appreciation for the thought and care that went into things like the SIM tray and the breaks in the stainless steel band, you should probably do something for which you are more suited. Maybe ID for Microsoft?
As for nobody caring about the sim-tray, it's this attention to even the smallest detail that puts Apple far ahead of the rest. I hate the cheap build quality you get with other brands (e.g. Nokia, HTC, Sony Ericsson)...no thanks!
I've had several phones in my life and I have dropped them at least once. You know what, still 100% working. iPhone4 dropped one time, glass breaks. There goes your money. And to the person that said people care more when phone gets scratched that when the glass breaks, is f@##in st@#$id. When the glass breaks, you can't use anymore!
It would seem that to protect your phone, you need a strong casing. Again, "design" flaw. I shouldn't have to use an accessory to relieve me of the worry that it may break when it's not protected.
The iPhone4 is the most beautiful device in the world. Why must its beauty be hidden because of a design flaw? Why can't I hold it bare?
It's as if Apple has not included drop tests and reception tests in their Quality check. Please don't forget this next time you make a phone that "changes everything".
I lost one of them to a leaky Coke can in a backpack, the other two are still going strong.
Is your head breakable?
Right you are. I hear the Androids have plastic screens on them, maybe they will develop a screen out of rock or metal. You won't be able to see anything, but the droid-bots might not notice so long as there is no Apple logo on it.
Do you even know that the back was never 'reported' to 'supposedly' be gorilla glass?
As for the antenna, please try to see above the tip of your nose. HTC, Nokia, NASA, or anyone else is welcome to make crap - I'm not paying them for their phones. This bothers tens of thousands of people, so it's called, yep - a problem.
no, solidworks isn't available for os x....but NX, a staggeringly better quality system is....and is used by apple.
seeing three separate strips of metal"
. . . Could be or will be??
If you are sitting at a desk, use your device without a cover. But, like everything else you use that is valuable, put a case on it when you are on the run. What's nice is that Apple's devices are the most resistant to scratches and breakage but no device is foolproof, especially the shoddy way Android devices are being built. So be safe and protect them with a nice looking case.
Apparently, your comment is a joke. It clearly indicates your lack of knowledge materials--especially. See Gazoobee's comment directly below yours.
Additionally, your comment concerning antenna issues is a clear indication of "jumping the band wagon" mentality. You clearly did not do your research. Had you done so, you would have realized that this problem is inherent in all phones. Look at the E71, HTC EVO, and Nexus One. All these phones, including the iPhone, have this problem.
You're only gloating because Apple is dominantly in this area and have shown your disdain for anything Apple. Remove the bias. Educate yourself. Do basic research. In the end, you won't fall in this trap
Apparently, not, based on your response. You need to search google or youtube and you will see that this has been independently verified by Nokia itself. Nokia even wrote a blog about it on their own site. This also happens to HTC phones. You really need to do your own research before making a false accusation.
The glass (gorilla glass) is currently the *strongest* glass made for commercial use and is used in things like windscreens for helicopters and high speed trains.
Despite the fact that glass sometimes breaks (if you drop it stupid), it breaks a lot *less* than almost any other substance except perhaps plastic. If they had made the iPhone plastic it would get scratched in a second and everyone would complain even more. Scratches are a much bigger problem for the average user than breakage.
Hearing all those comments makes me think that you blew it this time, Ive.
"For a designer to continually learn about materials is not extracurricular," Ive points out, "it's absolutely essential." ...............
it is just so much more true for web as well!!
What is yours Rain?
how about impact resistance Mr jobs?
It's the first 'true solid' CAD system that simulates materials in crazy detail and lets you use real-world tools on them.
The idea is that if you use realistic tools and materials to create a shape, then you also make a manufacturing process. It just 'falls out' of the design process.
I've never seen the production pics before =)