How Apple Created The Perfect Phone Design

How Apple Created The Perfect Phone Design
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    All of these phones were released in 2018.
    They were made by 14 different companies.
    Why do they all look the same?
    The modern smartphone can be described in three ways,
    a large screen, a notch, and no headphone jack.
    It's no surprise that smartphones
    didn't always look like this.
    But, how did we end up with this glass slab design?
    In 1994, IBM released what is considered
    to be the first smartphone.
    The Simon Personal Communicator
    had a monochrome LCD and stylus.
    It included some smart capabilities,
    like sending emails and faxes.
    Compared to other phones at the time,
    the Simon put more focus on the screen.
    The body of the phone was just a shell.
    This balance might remind you of another popular smartphone.
    In 2007, the release of the iPhone started a design trend
    that has lasted more than a decade.
    Instead of having a full keyboard or complicated design,
    the iPhone stripped away most of the hardware,
    and instead focused on the touchscreen.
    Buttons can be limiting.
    They're defined when a phone is created
    and can't be changed, but software and apps can be changed,
    and updated with new features.
    Over time, hardware gimmicks
    and accessories didn't catch on.
    But, thousands of new apps are released every single day.
    Apps can change and evolve,
    and they've become the reason we use our phones.
    A few years after the iPhone,
    companies like Samsung and Motorola followed Apple's lead,
    and created phones with big screens and buttons
    on the sides and bottom.
    As technology has improved, phones have gotten thinner,
    larger screens, and more powerful processors.
    Phones continue to have fewer buttons,
    but the design remains very similar to the original iPhone.
    So, what's so special about this glass rectangle?
    I think all smartphones look the same,
    because of two key reasons.
    One of them is the humans that are using them,
    are pretty much all the same.
    So, therefore, there's not a lot of variation
    that a manufacturer can do from the human perspective.
    Neil Mansfield is a professor
    at Nottingham Trent University.
    He pointed out that what people want more than anything
    is a phone that they can comfortably hold
    and easily put in their pocket.
    Neil: The other aspect of it is being driven
    by the technology that's available.
    If you can only make batteries of a certain form factor,
    that's gonna drive how big the phone can be
    and the shape of the phone.
    If you can only make a screen of a certain form factor,
    it's exactly the same.
    And that's why we see phones that are flat,
    why we see phones follow that rectangular shape.
    Narrator: New phones are released every year,
    but manufacturers are limited
    by the currently available technology.
    Take the notch, for example.
    It looks odd, and can be kind of distracting,
    but it houses useful features
    like front-facing cameras, sensors, and speakers.
    Several companies have tried to use hardware tricks
    to get rid of the notch, but until technology advances,
    we're stuck with it on mainstream phones.
    Besides technological challenges,
    trends play a big role in phone design.
    Looking at the history of smartphones,
    it's clear that Apple has been the trendsetter.
    Apple isn't always first,
    but when they add or take away features,
    other manufacturers tend to follow.
    Samsung, for example, began pushing their screen to the edge
    before Apple, and so far, they have even avoided
    including a notch on their phones.
    But, competitors haven't followed Samsung's design,
    they've picked Apple's.
    But, there actually are some benefits
    to phones looking similar.
    It's easier for consumers to switch
    from one phone to another
    when the learning curve isn't as steep.
    But, the trouble with these similar designs
    is a serious lack of innovation.
    Critics have called out Android manufacturers
    for missing an opportunity to avoid the notch
    and adopt a new design, separate from Apple's.
    If companies aren't willing to innovate,
    new phone models will always seem the same,
    giving consumers less reason to upgrade.
    In a time when over a dozen flagship phones
    are released each year, it can be really hard
    for an average user to differentiate between two phones.
    How do you know if the latest LG phone is better
    than the latest Google phone, if they both look the same?
    But, maybe this is it?
    Have we reached the peak of our smartphone design?
    Judging by the exponential speed
    of technological improvements, probably not.
    Future advancements in technology
    could dramatically change the way our phones look.
    As we get new materials or batteries,
    as we get new technology rolling out for displays,
    that's gonna allow the phone designers and the manufacturers
    to be more creative in what they do.
    Narrator: But, for now, companies are trying to evolve
    as much as they can inside the box they are given.
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