Apple created the perfect mobile design


Narrator: All of these phones were released in 2018. They are made by 14 different companies. Why do they all look the same? Modern smartphones can be explained in three ways, a large screen, a notch, and no headphone jack. It's not surprising that smartphones don't always look like this. But, how can we arrive at this glass plate design? In 1994, IBM released what was considered the first smartphone. Simon Personal Communicator has a monochrome and stylus LCD. That includes some clever abilities, such as sending email and fax. Compared to other phones at that time, Simon was more focused on the screen. The cellphone's body is only a shell. This balance may remind you of other popular smartphones.

In 2007, the iPhone release began a design trend that has lasted more than a decade. Instead of having a full keyboard or a complicated design, iPhone strips off most of the hardware, and instead focuses on the touch screen. Buttons can be limiting. They are determined when the telephone is made and cannot be changed, but the software and application can be changed, and updated with new features. Over time, hardware and accessory hoaxes are not appropriate. But, thousands of new applications are released every day. Applications can change and develop, and that is the reason we use our cellphones. A few years after the iPhone, companies like Samsung and Motorola followed in the footsteps of Apple, and created phones with large screens and buttons on the side and bottom. Along with the development of technology, cellphones have become thinner, larger screens, and stronger processors. The phone continues to have fewer buttons, but the design remains very similar to the original iPhone. So, what's special about this glass box?

Neil Mansfield: I think all smartphones look the same, for two main reasons. One of them is humans who use it, almost all of them the same. So, therefore, there are not many variations that manufacturers can do from a human point of view.

Narrator: Neil Mansfield is a professor at Nottingham Trent University. He showed that what people want more than anything is a cellphone that they can hold comfortably and easily put into their pockets.

Neil Mansfield: Another aspect of it is being driven by available technology. If you can only make batteries from certain form factors, it will determine how big the cellphone is and the shape of the cellphone. If you can only make screens of certain form factors, exactly the same. And that's why we see a flat cellphone, why do we see a cellphone following that rectangular shape.

Narrator: New cellphones are released every year, but manufacturers are limited by the technology currently available. Take a notch, for example. It looks weird, and can be a bit annoying, but it houses useful features such as a front facing camera, sensors, and speakers. Some companies have tried to use hardware tricks to get rid of that position, but until technology advances, we get stuck with it on public phones. In addition to technological challenges, trends play a large role in cellphone design. Looking at the history of smartphones, it's clear that Apple has become a trendsetter. Apple is not always the first, but when they add or remove features, other manufacturers tend to follow. Samsung, for example, began pushing their screens to the edge before Apple, and so far, they have even avoided inserting notches on their phones. But, competitors have not followed Samsung's design, they chose Apple. But, actually there are several benefits for cellphones that look similar. It's easier for consumers to switch from one cellphone to another when the learning curve isn't too steep. But, the problem with this similar design is the lack of serious innovation. Critics have called Android manufacturers to lose the opportunity to avoid notches and adopt new designs, separate from Apple. If companies don't want to innovate, new telephone models will always look the same, giving consumers fewer reasons to improve. In a time when more than a dozen flagship phones were released each year, it might be very difficult for the average user to distinguish between two cellphones. How do you know if the latest LG phones are better than the latest Google phones, if they look the same? But, maybe this is it? Have we reached the top of our smartphone design? Judging by the exponential speed of improving technology, maybe not. Future technological advancements can dramatically change the look of our cellphones.

Neil Mansfield: When we get new materials or batteries, when we get new technology to display, it will enable telephone designers and manufacturers to be more creative in what they do.

Narrator: But, for now, companies are trying to evolve as much as they can in the box provided.


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