Monday, July 26, 2010

Apple Rant: Function follows Form?

In not an Apple fanboy per-say, but when I first tried the IPhone when it first came out, I was pretty impressed. Here was the first touch-screen phone that did not feel gimmicky, did not require a stupid stylus, looked....well, class, felt even nicer, and was really really easy to use. So when I spotted a 16Gb broken one on Ebay, I jumped at the chance to buy and repair it.

Unfortunately, as a Hardware Geek, there are one or two issues that I had with the phone. One is that the touchy-feely "real" glass on the screen is notorious at cracking when the phone is dropped. I have repaired about four phones where this happened, and in each situation, it wasnt even dropped from a large height. Secondly, the glass, touch digitiser, and LCD are glued together and cannot easily be seperated. This means that if one element breaks (i.e the glass), the whole expensive assembly has to be replaced. This was lazy hardware design by Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive IMHO. Any portable device with a touch screen has a tough time at keeping dust from entering between the layers. The IPod touch had a robber bezel around the two layers to do just that. Nokia phones have a foam inlay to do the same. Why couldnt the IPhone be the same?
Thankfully, the later versions of the IPhone separated out the layers similiarly to the IPod Touch. However, Apple went back to old habits with the IPhone 4. This led to the much publicised "yellow spots" appearing on the screen caused by the glue not curing properly before being shipped. From all the hassle and complaints that Apple receive due to their glue addiction, you would assume that they would learn their lesson. Unfortunately, I think not. From the strain-relief gromits on their magsafe chargers that dont do any strain-relieving, to the notorious antenna issues of the IPhone 4, Apple will continue to give preference to design over hardware function. This is an Apple problem that will not go away any time soon.

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