When the first iPhone was released in June of 2007, its effect on the world of modern cellphone design was immediate. Up to that point, the cellular phone industry had been inundated with manufacturers whose primary motives were to win over new consumers with bare-boned and inexpensive choices.
The early flip and candy bar styles gave little thought to aesthetic appeal. Apple was the first smartphone designer to consider the technology from an artistic point of view. If people were going to start carrying a device with them at all times, then it should at least be something they enjoy looking at, holding in their hand, and interacting with. That first iPhone established Apple as a leader in technological design, and it’s a position it has held ever since. Here are just a few ways that Apple continues to influence design for not only the smartphone industry, but the rest of the world as well:
Form and Function
When cellphones first appeared on the market, there were certain technological limitations that made it difficult to give serious consideration to design, such as the processor and battery size. Moreover, plastic became the standard material for shell cases because its inherent lightness offset the bulky internal materials.
The iPhone appeared at a moment when technology allowed for greater flexibility in what materials could be used. Touchscreen LCD displays had shrunk to a point that it finally made sense to incorporate them into cellphones. And advancements in processor speed and solid-state storage capacity enabled Apple to design the iPhone with its now iconic shape.
Change With Tastes
With each new generation, Apple plays with the notion of form and function. Its developers make design changes and incorporate features that reflect the tastes of smartphone users and larger tech trends. Over the last nine years, the iPhone has evolved significantly while still retaining the essential design characteristics of the original.
Consider the iPhone 6s Plus. This latest iteration is notably thinner and longer than the original. This is to accommodate the iPhone 6s Plus’ 5.5-inch Retina HD display and 5-megapixel FaceTime camera that meet the growing consumer demand for video communication and larger screens. While many iPhone users have formed an emotional connection with the iPhone’s form, its evolving look is proof that Apple’s eye for innovation always sees the user first.
The iPhone was an important course correction to a trend in cellphones that mistook complication for sophistication. At the time, no other developers were rethinking the cellphone from the ground up. They were simply stacking features and functions on top of one another with little attention to how these things came together to make a coherent device.
Apple’s operating system, iOS, is in many ways the real reason for the iPhone’s global appeal. From the moment that icon grid appears on the screen, even the most tech-averse user has a sense of how to use it. For Apple, good design is also about access. If something is hard to use, it’s not the user’s fault. It means that the core design has failed. Other developers were quick to adopt this notion, which probably explains why so many other phones closely mirror the look and feel of the iPhone and iOS.
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This article is published by Will Sherwood | The Sherwood Group |Website Design | Graphic Design | Marketing Communications: The Sherwood Group has over 30 years of experience working with all sorts of companies, small and large. Our clients range from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 firms, in nearly every business sector, from across the street to around the world (and yes, even Europe, China, and South America). Our goal is to create advertising, graphic design, website design, and marketing communication that still looks fresh and relevant 10-15 years later. Our mission is to stir your imagination and leave your competition shaken and wondering, Now what do we do?” We are located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
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