Emotive Brand’s Take on the iPhone X Design: Color Us Skeptical

iPhone X

iPhone X: Revolutionary or Not

We’re a design studio, so it’s a given that Emotive Brand people are Apple fanboys. We followed the iPhone X launch enthusiastically and our collective hearts beat a little faster when Tim Cook announced the most revolutionary new product since the first iPhone hit the market.

But as iPhone X’s new features were revealed, the collective air went out of the team — not just for the product, but also a bit for the Apple brand. The product definitely struck us as evolutionary, not revolutionary. And a brand that is beloved for over-delivering needs to be extra careful about over-promising.

Apple, we tell you this with love. We know that your innovations are designed to be so forward-looking that it can take people awhile to catch up. Maybe that will be true for us with the iPhone X. Maybe time and eventual usage will make us eat our words.

But at this point, we feel the iPhone X sacrifices too much for the sake of appearing bleeding edge. We’re marketers, but we still don’t like it when it feels like our favorite tech lifestyle company puts marketing ahead of product. As brand people, this makes us worry about one of our favorite companies.

It’s early days for this phone, but here is our perspective on both the hardware design and the user experience design of the iPhone X.

Inelegant Bump-Out

The “revolutionary” edge-to-edge glass (which Samsung has offered for awhile) does provide a bigger screen, and that’s great. But the camera bump-out at the top is inelegant and, worse, gets in the way of content playing on the phone.

We actually prefer the look of a straight frame at the top of the phone, even if it makes the screen minimally smaller. And compromising the viewership experience for the sake of making an edge-to-edge glass claim seems to put marketing ahead of function.

Touch ID Versus Facial Recognition

We love touch ID. You can use it in the dark, in your car, no matter what you’re doing. We’re dubious about facial recognition. What if we’re driving and need to quickly access a map? Will the iPhone X really recognize our face when we check email first thing in the morning, with head half smooshed into the pillow and only one eye open? TouchID can handle those scenarios.

Matt Burns of TechCrunch says this is a deal killer for him. He says Apple tried putting the TouchID sensor on glass, but “couldn’t pull off the trick.” Many Android phones put the sensor on the back, but Apple decided to leave it off.

Security is another compromise. “Apple always wants its user experience to be delightful,” says security expert Marc Rogers in Wired. “In the security world that means you’re going to have to accept certain limitations.”

Again, this strikes us as a sacrifice of form over function akin to other Apple decisions like the elimination of a headphone jack from iPhone 7, forcing the use of wireless earbuds. We hope we’re wrong, but facial recognition seems like a questionable fix for something that already works really well.

$1,000+ Pricetag

Given our skepticism about the key new features of the iPhone X, none of us are planning to run out and plunk down $1,000+ for it. Of course, the sheer beauty of the device might make us reach for our wallets when we see it in person, but given that about 80 percent of iPhone owners use a case, $1,000 is a lot to pay for beauty that you then cover up.

Emotive Brand is a San Francisco Brand Strategy and Design and Agency.

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