Apple iPhone X Design Evo

This year, and after ten years of iterations, Apple exceptionally released at same time two new devices: iPhone 8 and iPhone X (three if we count the 8 Plus variant).

iPhoneX_iPhone8_iPhone8Plus.jpg

We can really identify an evolution and a polish of their industrial design in the current most iconic product line as it is the ‘iPhone’.

Sir Jony Ive made several movements in material selection along the years:

  • iPhone 2G (soft Aluminium) [2007]
  • iPhone 3G (Polycarbonate) [2008]
  • iPhone 4 (Steel frame with back glass)  [2010]
  • iPhone 5 (Alum Series 6000)  [2012]
  • iPhone 6s (Alum Series 7000)  [2015]
  • iPhone 8 (Alum 7000 frame with back glass strengthened [but not shatterproof])
  • iPhone X (Steel frame with back glass strengthened [but not shatterproof]) [2017]

The iPhone 4 made the first milestone, introducing a precious design based solely on noble materials such as Glass and Steel:

iPhone4S

The users have seen the polishing of the original iPhone industrial design, making it Better, more simple, robust and elegant along the last years.

One step further, Apple introduced a fully unibody alum case making the device (iPhone 5) even more robust against falls and over time, and reaching the maximum expression of inner specs and nice design with the still available iPhone SE (2016). And still pretty loved small and handy 4″ screen iPhone for single hand usage.

iPhoneSE_Flying

But I would say this was until 2014 with the iPhone 6 introduction. It became slimmer and rounded but the introduction of the Back Camera Turret destroyed the beautiful job done until the iPhone 5s. I can understand the engineering trade-off’s and Apple’s eagerness to continuously improve its photographic system; but that doesn’t mean that the final solution was pretty inconvenient in terms of simply ID.

iPhone6s_flying

And in 2014 year, also the iPhone 6s Plus (the bigger iPhone made until today) was also presented, which due its size, also explained the fact of making the device thinner and rounded (despite the back turret); to avoid a feeling of having a mastodon in the hands of the end user.

iPhone6s

Personally, I have been a really fan lover of the Plus FHD 5.5″ screen, despite the fact that the overall device size was never as handy as other more compact smartphones with 5,2″ FHD screens. So, I was also always waiting to what happen this year with the iPhone X, a more compact device with a massive screen.

You can see how the 4″ size is not enough anymore nowadays, and how the design of the iPhone X with bigger screen fixed it (compared with also iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models):

iPhoneSE_iPhone7_iPhone8.jpg

But coming back to the desing of the device itself, I would like to remark several things.

I was not a big fan of losing the 3.5″ analog audio jack (although, I think is a good movement to push the market to improve the wireless earbuds developments), but the iPhone 7 (2016) fixed several design holes of the previous generations.

iPhone7

First of all, the black matte color came back and due the new alloy and treatment processes, it was stronger against scratches, just perfect!

Secondly, the back camera turret design was embraced with the whole housing design, making of it something Smoother and Flowing more naturally to the lens, not like a ‘nut’ screwed into the housing. Look at it:

iPhone7Plus.jpg

Third, the plastic lines embedded in the housing for the RF antennas, were delicately re-designed and pushed to the side borders to go undetected. So beautiful and handy engineering trade-off solution, again very well done in both black color variants.

And last, but not less important, the Touch ID mechanical push button was fully removed, but keeping perfectly its functionality! I really love this change. Because it eliminated a mechanical piece, more or less delicate, and with a certain tendency to break with time, even maybe being very careful with it.

This made the most robust, powerful and reliable iPhone device until today.

But unfortunately, the history doesn’t end here, and in 2017 iPhone 8 and X, Apple decided to came back to back glass covers.

iPhone8_iPhoneX_iPhone8Plus.jpg

I understand the reasons behind for this movement: Inductive Charging feature introduction; as the main trend of Apple is to make its iPhone an fully ubiquitous device and fully cable loss dependent.

But this doesn’t mean that this marketing and engineering decision hard a tough impact in the design.

Now, we are again having a ‘nut’ embossed in the glass:

iPhone8.jpg

Which is even worse in the iPhone X, which straight turret is above 1mm height:

iPhoneX_flying.jpg

On top of that, the new “Space Gray” 2017 tone, is not dark/light enough gray, nor black, but some kind of slighly ‘ugly’ and a bit ‘dirty perception‘ gray tone, which makes it lose all the magic to the device. In the photos is not clearly noticeable, but in live it is, and loses many points in its favor; go to a shop and take a look yourself if you have the opportunity.

Another detail is that Apple bring back the frame made in Steell to the iPhone X (to differentiate further from iPhone 8), but I believe that the Alum alloy series 7000 continues being the best approach in terms of Hardness, Durability and Compensated weight for metal usage in smartphones:

iPhone8VSiPhoneX.jpg

And the worse is that the new back cover made in glass, and even reinforced, it is not shatterproof against falls. What, together with the higher back camera turrets, will make the need to use a cover more necessary than ever before, and not due the possible scratches of daily use, but to avoid instability on flat surfaces and possible glass breakages against falls.

Another problem of usability and perception is that the rear glass (despite being less slippery than the metal) is too warm and gives the impression of being cheaper and more bad than it really is; as it gives the feeling of being some kind of plastic material instead of glass, and not a premium material, something that back metal actually transmitted to the end user much perfectly.

iPhone8_Gold.jpg

Nor does it give it a feeling of being a Monolithic device, something that the previous iPhone 7 Jet Black model transmitted much better, despite its inherent problem of being prone to scratches or micro abrasions after some daily usage without any cover.

iPhone7_Jet_Black.jpg

I also personally think that the decission to avoid a black variant in 2017 was to avoid any possible reminiscences with the old iPhone 4 and any kind of annoying comparison with an obsolete device of seven years ago. Although another possibility is that Apple has a silver bullet for next year minor update, and they would introduce the Pure Black in the iPhone 2018 as a variant novelty, we’ll see. As this also happened in the past.

So, as conclusion, even if this year new devices are really great iPhones (I have not any doubt about it) and I know for sure that Apple will make another hit of sales; they didn’t move a step forward with respect pure to Industry Design, but management decided to focus on offering a truly exceptional photographic experience, putting aside the aesthetic details; at least until R&D can find a viable technical solution that puts everything all together: Photography + Wireless + Design

To end, my wish would be that in next years iPhone milestones, Apple solves the engineering issue for the wireless charging (keeping it, of course) but changing the back material to something more robust for daily use and without hiding its great industrial design under a case: Aluminum again, another metal alloy or maybe even any innovative material (a new kind of ceramic?); and also the back camera it becomes again completely flat maintaining all its spectacular functionalities 😉

P.S. By the way ,I did not want to put too much emphasis on the iPhone X’s notch (Face ID), or ‘ears’ as some people call them:

FaceID_TrueDepth-iPhoneX_a

because the idea (True Depth cameras technology) has been implemented in a so sublime way taking into account all the engineering trade-off’s, look by yourself the inners complexity (8 tiny and extremely complex electronic components putted together in a row and perfectly alligned along the millions of units to be made):

FaceID_TrueDepth-iPhoneX_b.jpg

This is again a big step ahead in the consumer electronics in terms of strong seamless security system; and anyone can not, and should not, neglect all the merit behind to bring it to market; because it is another milestone in the smartphone industry, as it was the Touch ID at 2012. And I know that Apple UX team will find the best balance (maybe after few iOS iterations) to use those couple of ears to simply show useful information to the user without making ugly the whole interface always, adapting them depending of the app being used, and without bringing back a useless bottom black band just to simply offer a full symmetrical design, which will again wrongly oversize the device, making it less handy.

Smartphones, Premium Materials,… and Cases?

Since the first smartphones with premium materials were released in the market with Glass, Metal, Leather, Wood, … I realized that something was changing, making these devices more personal, more human, and less commodity parts.

But since then, many smartphones models and manufacturers have joined the party, but most of them still have the same problem.

We still need to use (or are adviced to do it) a case or protector in case we can keep our daily devices as new as first day:

Samsung_S6_case

This is something that I really don’t understand and don’t like at all; which is the purpose of adding strengthen Glass front or back panels, Metal frames of even full metal unibody housings if at the end the feeling that I will have in my hands will be the touch of a soft, and common plastic?

Well, the good thing, is that I am not the only one realizing this situation, and some market players, as Apple and Jony Ive team, already began to solve it. But how, simply using more robust materials in their creations, as the latest iPhone 6s, which uses the strongest 7000 Series aluminum alloy for metal body and the strongest cover glass used on any smartphone in the world; using a special dual ion‑exchange process, which makes it stronger at a molecular level and the most durable in the smartphone industry.

iPhone6s

Of course, the research is still not over. I believe that current metal alloy is strong enough to avoid scratches and floor impacts, and even the screen is already strengthen to don’t worry anymore about having your keyrings and iPhone’s in the same pocket. Anyhow, even if I am not fully convinced about the total reliability of the front cover glass against floor fallings, I believe that Cupertino guys are going in the right direction and next iPhone generations (as the next iPhone 7 – 2016) and next ones, will be even more roboust enough to avoid using no more cases neither screen protectors at all in normal user cases.

But, of course, not only Apple is working in that direction, also Moto by Lenovo did it with their first Moto X Force with Shattershield display:

moto_x_force_0

And Motorola is so proud and convinced about it that the company will offer 4 years warranty on the screen of the device, and claimed they have spent 3 years developing this shatterproof screen; which has five layers to ensure its durability and are designed to absorb shock and protect the display from breaking:

moto_x_force_1

Basically, the first layer is an exterior protective glass which Moto says comes with a proprietary hard coat designed to guard against dents and abrasion, followed by an interior glass in the second layer to provide a clear protective shield. Then, there is a dual touch layer, which ensures that in case of an impact where the primary touch sensitive layer is damaged, the second one takes over to maintain touchscreen performance. The fourth layer is the AMOLED display, which Moto says can absorb shocks. And finally the fifth layer is the aluminum chassis, which provides structural integrity and durability.

Pause – that’s all you need to unplug…

It is well known that in our busy lives we spend more a more time running from here to there, stressed trying to multitask everything what we do, trying to win time, which makes us even more quickly lose it ‘as beach sand slipping through our fingers‘; becoming more stressed and more aware of lack of time to simply stop and relax.

Well, you are not alone 😉 many people suffer these feelings and mostly we try to mitigate them procrastinating: switching constantly between game and game, between tens of social networks apps and notifications,… but at the end we realize that the circle gets closed and we are equally stressed as when we began.

Circle

But not become fatalist, fortunately there are good news for all of us, a few weeks ago released iOS app which will help us to relax and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of our lives, briefly.

This is “PAUSE – Relaxation at your fingertip“, the latest creation from ustwo, the acclaimed developer studio, creators of ‘Monument Valley‘ last year puzzle mobile game hit; which was made in collaboration with PauseAble, a Danish mental wellness product and solution company, where they help people take control of their energy and stress with their patent pending interactive approach.

Pause_000

The wellness app is quite minimalistic and simple to use, which denotes how the developers focused more in getting to the point instead of adding many user confusing features.

Pause_001

I would recommend you to use headphones and use it in a quite/calm place to avoid interrumptions, as it will be similar to perform a short mediation exercise but fully guided and easy, so don’t panic. 😉

Pause_002

You will only have to launch it, and then touch the dot that appears in the screen, follow the guiding circle with your finger and enjoy the ambient specially composed music until the session finishes with a soft bell; that’s all! (easy, right? 😉 )

Pause_003

As said, it is very minimalistic, the only settings appear when you slide up the logo (the ‘A‘ circled) at bottom side; and there you can select to Show instructions; change the Difficulty and change the Duration of your Pauses; pretty easy:

Pause_004

I have being sporadically using it the past couple of weeks, and I must admit that it works!

As in anykind of meditation exercise is better to begin with short duration times; let’s say 3 or 5 min; and progressively increase it until you get the habit to be focused and relaxed. I told you this because while you slowly move the dot around the whole screen, and the colored ink stain becomes bigger and bigger, the app will suggest you to close your eyes while you slowly continue moving your finger around the screen hearing the background music, until a bell sound indicates you that pause is finished. This could sound easy, but it is not the first times; so believe me, better begin with shorter periods.

The developers have been tested the effectiveness of this exercise measuring the EEG waves of the beta testers using it, and it was proved that they became more and more calm while they used it; which I can confirm simply by my daily use.

I believe that the developers decided to don’t implement a notification system in purpose to avoid forcing the people to make those Pauses and to keep clean the UX; anyhow I think that it could be a nice add-on feature for next coming updates to instill progressively the habit of ‘stopping‘ in our under pressure life’s; ultimately, the user could always disable those alarm notifications if don’t want it.

To finish, I can only recommend you this wonderful, colorful, delicious and proven wellness app, which for only $1.99 will bring some peace in your hectic life.

Pause_005

One last thing: If you have time, you can read about the details of its creation in their own blog: ‘The Story of Pause‘ ; it is really fastinating. 😉

iPhone6s – One Step Ahead

After my old post (iPhone6s – ‘Dreams & Facts’ – 3 months ahead) where I was trying to predict which would be the new features of this year iPhone release, I think is time to talk about some of the changes and ‘surprises’ that we got.

One of the good changes was the change of aluminum alloy used in the housing, moving from previous 6000 series to stronger 7000 series. This was a very smart movement from Apple, because after introducing it on their Apple Watches, and with a year of experience manufacturing it, the iPhone user got a stronger housing which dissipates any trace of last year ‘Bendgate’ (which I personally think from my own experience was vastly exaggerated); and not only that, harder against tiny scratches.

This will be very interesting for all those users who like to enjoy the feeling of the raw metal in their hands without any case in between; but also who don’t want to care if they leave their expensive devices on any surface. Anyhow, due the inconvenient protrude camera, I’ll continue using a case, to have a fully flat back side.

A part of slighly heavier feeling (few grams due newer 3D Touch screen and Taptip Engine added), and few tens of millimeters increase in size, the users will not see any difference between the iPhone6 and newer iPhone6s housing.

For the most curious of the inners parts, we can see here a full exploid view of iPhone6s Plus:

iPhone_6s_Plus_Exploid_View

On top of that, Apple also renewed their SoC with a newer A9, faster and even more powerful that last year 64-bit A8.

It is never mentioned, but Apple also increased the inner RAM embedded inside the SoC up to 2GB (LPDDR4 type), something that most users were long time waiting for.

This upgrade finally aligns the whole mobile devices product line since last year first iPad Air 2 with 2GB:

  • iPhone6s / 6sPlus (2015): 2GB RAM
  • iPad mini 4 (2015): 2GB RAM
  • iPad Air 2 (2014): 2GB RAM
  • iPad Pro 1 (2015): 4GB RAM

The drawback of this change is that Apple made a turning point; and as they normally optimize the iOS and apps for current devices specs, all old models before 2014 could become obsolete (‘slow and sluggish as a brick’) in only one year cycle (next iOS10). Of course, only Apple has the last word about it; but the reality is that today the iOS9.0.2 becomes slower in (not so old) iPhone6/6Plus devices as many users are reporting.

And again, this is not all, it looks like we will have another ‘gate’ this year, and it will be the “ChipGate“:

iPhone6_A9_chips_Samsung_TSMC

I may understand that for a company as Apple, who sells tens of millions of new iPhone’s every year, to get the right supply chain alliances must be quite difficult; so this year Apple splitted the production of the newer A9 between TSMC and Samsung. This should not be an issue if they would use the same lithographic processes, but that was not the case (TSMC 16nm FinFET Plus, Samsung 14nm LPP (low-power plus) 2nd gen FinFET); which is one of the reasons of difference in silicon size of the above picture.

So, today we may find 4 types of “non-declared/selectable” iPhones on the shops:

  • N66mAP: iPhone 6s Plus with A9 chip manufactured by TSMC.
  • N66AP: iPhone 6s Plus with A9 chip manufactured by Samsung.
  • N71mAP: iPhone 6s with A9 chip manufactured by TSMC.
  • N71AP: iPhone 6s with A9 chip manufactured by Samsung.

Of course, the user cannot choose, neither select them, and after some intensive tests made, looks like the TSMC variant can provide around 25% more battery lifetime compared with Samsung variant; and even lower internal temperature rise.

After the whole debate created, Apple had to officially acknowledged it; but they argued that those huge differences are only in extreme test cases, not typical daily user cases:

“Our testing and customer data show the actual battery life of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, even taking into account variable component differences, vary within just 2-3% of each other.”

I am not fully agree with that as Different lithographic process are directed related to power consumption.

Today the iPhone6s/6sPlus is a extremely powerful machine (even already compared with Macbook Air’s performance), and Apple also promotes it as a portable video editing computer (to make and edit even 4K videos); then, I don’t find fair that for a so expensive product (up to $1000 for the full highest iPhone6sPlus 128GB model) some buyers will have to “play to lotto” to see if they get a Samsung or TSMC A9 inside.

Besides of that, I would share with your a couple of cool X-Ray pictures of the two models 😉 , there you’ll see below the battery big ‘block’ the new Taptic engines introduced this year; which reduced battery size with respect last year; but not battery expected lifetime due other systems improvements.

This is the iPhone 6s:

iPhone6s_xRay

And the iPhone 6s Plus:

iPhone6sPlus_xRay

As final though, regarding the iPhone 6s ChipGate of 2015, I only hope that Apple rectifies and for next year iPhone 7 (2016), they use a single SoC foundry or exactly the same lithographic process for all products made with coming A10 (and some sources already pointed to TSMC as main and only A10 source due their capability to offer a better power consumption and yield lithographic process).

iPhone – From 2G (2007) up to 6s (2015)

It is very interesting to see how the iPhone product line has been evolving during the last eight years, since the first generation (iPhone2G) was released on June 29th, 2007; up to the latest iPhone6s/6sPlus from last September 25th, 2015:

iPhone_History_000

In this time, Apple has been evolving their flagship product from screen size and also housing colors; but only that, as since 2014 they splitted the product line in two variants: Normal (4.7″) and Plus (5.5″) versions, giving to the users even more ‘flavors’ to choose, on top of Color (Gray Space, Silver, Gold, Rose Gold) and internal FLASH memory size (16/64/128GB).

It is very interesting because even Steve Jobs said that the original 3.5″ was the perfect size to reach the whole screen with your thumb, holding it with a single hand; the iPhone was been continuously growing following market demands.

iPhone_History_001

I must admit that I felt very confortable with the 3.5″ and even 4″; but even if the latest 4.7″ can be managed by single hand; the 5.5″ mostly must be used with two-hands. Of course, 5.5″ size is a trade-off, which allowed many users to merge their old two devices (iPhone and iPad) in a single one, carrying less devices on their bags.

I really doubt that the iPhone screen will grow further in the coming years, as it seems that even in the Android/Windows smartphones field the battle for bigger and bigger screen sizes is over, and the limit was has been set at 5.7″ for phablets and 5″ or 5.2″ for smartphones, as maximum size. And if it does, probably will be up to 5.7″, going edge-to-edge with new housing, but keeping the overall size.

HOW TO define your own iOS custom ringtone

Nowadays most people mostly uses the default ringtones coming in the iOS, being most of them pretty good. But for all those who would like to have a more customized ringtone, and don’t want to pay twice in iTunes for the song and the ringtone, it is possible to make your own in few and easy steps.

You only need to follow these steps in your iTunes program (PC or Mac version):

1) Open your iTunes (PC/Mac) and choose the song from which you would like to make your own ringtone. As it must be 30 seconds maximum length; we will have to crop it, so listening several times to choose the section of it which you like more.

2) Now, right-click on the song, select ‘Get Info’, and then select the ‘Options’ tab. There, you will see Start and Stop timing settings, and it is there where you will select/define the begin and end time position (in seconds) for your custom ringtone. Once selected, click ‘OK’ to close the window.

iOS_ringtone_1

3) Next step will be to create an AAC version of the song, which is pretty easy as you only need to right-click on it and select ‘Create AAC Version’. Then, you will have two songs with the same name, but one of only 30 seconds length; which I recommend you to change its name as I did in this example to don’t confuse it with the full length song:

iOS_ringtone_2

And before continuing, you can de-selecting the ‘Start’ and ‘Stop’ settings in the original song to listen it fully next time.

By the way, if you get an error due your song still has DRM protection on it (as it was purchased before 2009 in old iTunes), you can follow this Apple tutorial to get the free-DRM version.

4) To be able to use it as ringtone, we need to find the file and rename it. On Mac you can select ‘Show in Finder’, and in PC you can right-click on the song and click on ‘Show in Windows Explorer’:

iOS_ringtone_3

Then, with a simply right-click on the file, and selecting ‘rename’, you can change its file extension from .m4a to .m4r.

iOS_ringtone_4

5) And as final step, you do a double left-click on the ringtone file, and your custom ringtone (with .m4r extension) will be automatically added to your iTunes Tones library:

iOS_ringtone_5

Then, it is ready to be added to your iPhone/iPad next time that you synchronize them. Pretty easy! 😉

HOW TO easily recalibrate your iPhone6 HOME button

Even a Second generation of Home/Touch ID button has been introduced since iPhone5s, some users still have sometimes little issues with it, arguing wrong or bad behavior and usually forcing them go to nearest Apple Store to get some quick Genius technical support.

TouchID

It is true that with its launch release 1st gen at 2014, there were some initial complaints from first users, but since the last two years, Apple has improved significantly the HW and SW fingerprint recognition of it.

As you can see, although quite small (taking into account compressed technology on it), it’s not a simple push button, but a quite complex electromechanical embedded component composed by a 500ppi resolution capacitive sensor, which can scan sub-epidermal skin layers and offers 360° readability:

iPhone6_TouchID

Actually, it’s not always necessary go to an Apple Store or send it to Apple Repair Service, as you can first try the following re-calibration procedure.

The process is quite straightforward:

  1. Launch one of the native iOS8 apps from your iPhone6; let’s use newest Health app.
  2. Keep the app open, then push the Power button until the shutdown slider appears.
  3. Once there, and keeping always pressed the Power button, push and keep pushing the Home button until the iPhone screens turns off.
  4. Now, only wait until the device reboots and try yourself again if the behavior of the Home button improved.

If it didn’t improve as you expected, maybe the issue is slightly worse; you can also try to carefully clean the Metal ring border of the Home button just in case some dust accumulated on it could be blocking the pushing mechanism.

Then, if none of these tips worked, you could need to bring it to an Apple Official Repair Service; remember to check first if it’s still inside official warranty period; also something easily to check in the Apple Warranty Status official web.

HOW TO create and assign custom vibration alerts on iPhone

This is a hidden but very useful and fun iOS feature which allow you to create personalized vibration patterns for incoming messages and Calls.

iOS_Custom_Vibrate

The setting is a little bit hidden inside the iOS Settings, but you can find it easily following these steps:

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on Sounds.
  3. Under the Sounds and Vibration Patterns section, choose on which one would you like to use a custom vibration, for instance tap on Ringtone.
  4. Then, scroll up to the top of the screen and tap on Vibration, just above the regular ringtones section.
  5. Now, scroll down until Custom and  tap on Create New Vibration.
  6. So, here you will be able to make your own custom Vibration pattern, only tap the center of the screen in the sequence you want the vibration to be. (You can also hold your finger down for a continuous vibration, and Lifting it up will create a pause on it).
  7. Once done, tap on Stop to finish.
  8. You can now play it, and if you like it, only tap on Save to finish the creation process.
  9. Finally, go back to previous settings screen and assign it as your vibration custom pattern for the alert that you wish.
  10. Congratulations! It’s done, now you have your own custom Vibration Pattern. 😉

Moreover, you can assign your new Vibration custom pattern to any of your contacts, just tap Edit and then tap Vibration on them.