Apple’s executives will not return my calls or answer my email messages. Why not? I am merely a customer who writes about Apple from time to time, and I have a few questions to ask about how the company conducts business.
For example, why did Apple downgrade the Mac mini and why doesn’t Apple upgrade the Mac mini? You know. Stuff like that. Here’s another question I would ask. “What’s up with the Notch on the iPhone X screen?” I have answers. They are just not official answers.
Questions about decisions Apple makes are many and varied. Why didn’t Apple put those new OLED displays into iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus? Apple won’t tell me, but it should be obvious. No component manufacturer– Samsung, I’m looking at you— can make the number of OLED displays Apple needs. That’s a problem with other components, too, so Apple has begun to spread out the iPhone’s product line. iPhone SE, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, iPhone X. Each model has different components which helps Apple’s supply chain and manufacturing capability.
Think choices and tradeoffs.
Now you’ll begin to understand the issues with the Notch at the top of iPhone X’s new OLED display. Look at iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus.
The visuals are striking and telling. iPhone 8 and 8 Plus use a new LCD display, new camera, and new CPU, the A11 Bionic. Otherwise, they’re similar to iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. iPhone X is in the middle of the image above and has notable differences. The overall size is between iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, but the display– OLED from Samsung– is larger than iPhone 8 Plus. The side and bottom bezels are gone. No chin. No forehead. And, no Home button. It’s gone in iPhone X. Gone.
Choices and tradeoffs.
It’s possible that Apple wanted the Home button to be built into the display but the technology to make it happen isn’t quite here yet; not for the older LCD display design, and not for the newer OLED display design, and certainly not a component available in the numbers Apple needs to satisfy the market. Also not quite here yet– but on the way– is the alternative. Face ID. Face recognition. Yeah, sure, face recognition is nothing new; it’s been around here and there for years. But so was fingerprint recognition but Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor made the market because it worked better than competitor alternatives.
From what we have seen of Face ID, the same revolution is about to happen.
Apple was willing to dump the mature and effective Touch ID for a new technology that could revolutionize how we secure our mobile devices. Face ID uses a marketing term– TrueDepth– to describe how the facial recognition system works. The front of the iPhone must have space to house a camera and sensors and lights. Those components work in concert to implement Face ID’s face recognition system. Those components need to be housed somewhere on the front of the iPhone’s display. Where?
Choices and tradeoffs.
The technology is not available to put Touch ID into the display. The technology is not available to put Face ID’s component into the display so they are invisible to the user.
Ipso facto and alakazam. The Notch.
Notch is a design choice based upon available technological capabilities. Love it or hate but deal with it. Physics are involved. Did customers complain about the huge chin space iPhone’s Home button required? Did critics howl about the huge forehead space the iPhone’s camera required? Did anybody complain about the wide bezels on the right and left of each iPhone?
So, why all the noise about the Notch?
Easy. Notch is visible. Notch is big. Notch is a distraction. Like other design and manufacturing choices based upon available technology, the issue with Notch will go away. Notch is a beautifully ugly design. It’s beautiful because it works magic. It’s a visual cue so you know what to look at when you raise to unlock iPhone X. Remember, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Next year no one will remember the ugly Notch. As with the older and thicker bezels, chin and forehead, we will look past the Notch and see the beauty of how it is used and what it does.
Be impressed with the technology and capability of what is in the Notch. Note that Apple made side bezels and chin almost disappear and the space needed for a Home button is gone. More iPhone. Less space. That should be considered a good thing. Instead, critics are howling about the most important technology revolution because of where it is located. Exactly where it needs to be.
Choices and tradeoffs.
Mark my words today– this time next year, after Apple puts a Notch in all the new iPads, iPhones, MacBooks, and iMacs, the Notch will prevail and live on while critics and their words will be forgotten. The Notch is a beautifully ugly design. Visually distinctive and highly functional.