The new iPhone X is here. As a designer I get the same question every time Apple releases a new product or updates the physical form of an existing one: “What do you think?”
Over the years my answers have always been a cautious “It looks nice.” But underlying truth is that the look of a Thing is only part of the design of the Thing. How is feels—how it makes *you* feel—is the important part. And that’s intangible, something that can only be measured in subjective abstracts.
Having said that, the questions won’t stop coming. This year I’m taking a new approach—writing my thoughts for everyone to see.
The form is simultaneously the most exiting and the least important change. Everyone loves to see new things, myself included. Finally getting the nearly-fullscreen non-bezel iPhone we’ve been waiting for is a treat (I mean that). Ultimately—and we all know this—the newness wears off in a couple of months. The true estimate of the product then becomes (as if it weren’t already) the experience of using it.
It’s been over a year and I still remove my iPhone 7+’s case every so often to run my fingers along the curved edges and admire its design. I have no doubt that the X’s beauty in-person will exceed how great it appears on-screen. Curved glass, gorgeous OLED screen, all glass body—the X is a stud.
My most anticipated physical characteristic of the X surprisingly isn’t the full screen display, though if you asked me a few weeks ago that would’ve been my guess. Instead I’m looking forward to the size of the unit itself. Right now I own a 7+ so I can take in all that beautiful screen real estate, and the extra screen size means that the virtual keyboard is much larger. (I’m 6’3”. You know the saying, “Big hands, big iPhone.”) I love the fact that the phone will be noticeably smaller while the screen will be nearly the same size I currently use.
The Real Exciting Part
The good stuff is currently flying under the radar: Augmented Reality. If you’re a regular reader here you know I have big expectations for AR. I could go on about a world without physical screens, reality and interface overlaid in spades, the idea of a truly integrated experience—but that’s better off in its own post. For now all you need to know is that the iPhone X—and even your current iPhone—is capable of AR, and you should be aware of it.
Since I don’t have an X that’s about all I’ll say for now. The new iPhone is beautiful. It’s an evolution. It’s everything we love about Apple. Still, all that aesthetic newness eventually fades. The truly exciting part is how the X will foster growth in augmented reality. If you aren’t into AR, I still recommend getting it because, let’s face it, it looks nice.