This week marks the arrival of the much awaited iPhone 5. Or the New iPhone. Whatever Apple chooses to call it.
It will be faster. It will be thinner. It will have a larger display. It will have a new proprietary port.
But it will still look like an iPhone 4.
So while I’m sure there will be applause for new features, such as Apple finally offering a 4-inch screen, possibly finally offering LTE, and possibly offering something-something wireless or another, the applause will be more polite and muted, rather than delirious.
Because it will still look like an iPhone 4.
And you can bet that the anti-fanboys will be gloatingly taking jabs at Apple for this. Remember those taunts about “Why would I get a 4S? It just looks like the 4? How will people know that I upgraded?” We could be seeing a bit more of that.
Here’s the thing. The iPhone 5 (or New iPhone, or iPhone Macro, or iPhone Jumbo, or whatever) will look like the iPhone 4 mainly because Apple is already committed to the design.
Take the dimensions, for instance. The roughly 60mm width and 115mm height have been Apple’s standards since the original iPhone, and it will stay that way. Why? Because as per Apple’s own protocols, you should be able to use the phone with just one hand, and the 60mm standard allows your thumb to reach the furthest corner of the screen without effort.
Try doing that on a typical 4-inch Android phone.
Of course, we have yet to see if the new iPhone, with its 4-inch screen, still manages to let you reach everything in one thumb sweep.
And then there’s that rectangular frame with the rounded corners. This is the very subject of Apple’s dispute with Samsung. And now that Apple has publicly sued Samsung for imitating its look and feel, to some degree Apple has also painted itself into a corner.
Can Apple come up with a curved iPhone? Nah. HTC has already done that.
Can Apple come up with very rounded corners, nearly oval-esque, like on the Galaxy S3? Nah. Samsung might sue in karmic fashion.
Essentially, since Android phones come in all shapes and sizes, Apple could tiptoe into one new design configuration and risk getting sued the way it sued Samsung before.
Which could mean that the iPhone will essentially look the same from here on. With just little bits of design flourishes, such as getting thinner, or using a new material (carbon fiber!), or tweaking the bezel a bit here and there.
But it looks like the iPhone is bound to look like an iPhone… forever.
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