Why the iPhone 5 Needs to Be a Redesign

I’ve been buying new iPhones on launch day since the iPhone 3G, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. But in my purchasing time, I’ve bought two phones that looked pretty much identical, and one that really stood out from the crowd. For this next iPhone – what I assume will be called the iPhone 5 – I need something different than the Leica-esque look of the iPhone 4. And I think we all do too.

Why? The iPhone 4, despite its faults, has been hugely popular for Apple since day one. Why fix what isn’t broke? Well there are a few reasons, and I’ll get into them after the jump.

The Early Adopter

I’m the guy who sits in line on launch day to get his new iPhone, then walks away, very proud of my purchase. The moment I put it up to my ear, I want people looking at the phone to know that I have the latest gadget. I’ve got the new iPhone, not the same one everyone else is carrying around. I’m on the cutting edge, and I’m proud of my early adopter status.

But because people keep their iPhones for so long, it’s not surprising to see an iPhone 3G still out on the streets. If my phone looks like theirs, then I’m not considered to be hip and trendy or cool. I’m just another guy with an iPhone, and that’s not my bag.

Point is, in a perfect world each successive generation of iPhone would stand out from the one before it. That way, the early adopters can stand out from those that either keep their phones longer or who don’t need the latest Apple product.

That Whole Antenna Thing

Like it or not, Antennagate ruled the iPhone 4’s world at the start, and even though Apple ended up selling a bazillion iPhones, there’s no telling how many customers that cost them. Even though it’s not that big of an issue, it’s still an issue, and I guarantee that if the iPhone stays with the same body the press will be all over it. “Look, the iPhone 5 has the same antenna issues as the last one,” and so on. Last time, people were talking about recalls, so let’s just not push the issue here any further. Change the design and put the antenna back in the case.

Strength

I don’t know about you, but I’m scared to drop my iPhone. I’ve always been the guy who handles his phone pretty carefully, but that glass front and back scares the bejeezus out of me. It’s glass, after all, and no matter what kind of gorilla it’s made from, it can break if dropped just the right way. So in my book, the glass has got to go, and don’t go with plastic because it’s not a better option. My 3GS cracked like everyone else’s, and it seems to me like if Apple went with something metal and different, we might be able to get a really cool phone in the process. Now I have no real alternatives here, but I do think that it needs some kind of major change so that it’s less fragile than it is presently.

That Fresh Gadget Feeling

Before the iPhone, I used to buy the same type of cell phone every time. There wasn’t anything particularly interesting about the phones, but they followed a trend for years at a time. First it was flip phones, then the candybar shape, then the candybar shape with a keyboard (be it sliding or otherwise) until we came to 2008 when I bought my iPhone 3G. I’ve had the same basic iPhone for a few years now — let’s do something different.

I’m not saying to do a flip or anything with a slide-out keyboard, because I think we all can agree that’s not quite the best path. But even just putting a slight arc in the face or curving the top or bottom would be enough for me, as long as it’s tweaked just a little. All of the renderings I’ve seen have a cool aluminum back and a wedge shape to the phone which almost echoes the MacBook Air. Something like that would be perfect, I do think the iPhone 4 was a step above the 3GS and previous iPhones, and it had just enough of a tweak in it to make it seem new and unique. That’s all I’m asking for: Just a little step outside of the iPhone 4’s boundaries, that’s all.

Conclusions

I hope when the iPhone 5 comes out we will see something different. So far, the bets have been on a solid redesign, and I still hope that’s the case. What I think may be more likely is that the iPhone 4 just gets tuned up a little bit, then released into the wild, just like the iPhone 3G and 3GS (and to a lesser extent, the original iPhone) were very similar looking products. Maybe they put a matte finish on the backside, or coat the stainless strip in some kind of color, but I’m 50/50 that it’ll be a full redesign.

That said, it needs to be new. Let’s hope that it is.


  • Jeff

    “The moment I put it up to my ear, I want people looking at the phone to know that I have the latest gadget. I’ve got the new iPhone, not the same one everyone else is carrying around. I’m on the cutting edge, and I’m proud of my early adopter status.”

    Really? Thats actually one of the reasons I’m going Android. So I don’t look like just another DB. Everyone has an iPhone, its about as special driving a Honda Accord. A nice car, but even your grandmother has one. Besides its just a freaking phone, get over yourself. Nobody cares.

  • parker

    “If my phone looks like theirs, then I’m not considered to be hip and trendy or cool.”

    That’s one of the saddest sentences ever written.

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  • Stephen

    “I’m the guy who sits in line on launch day to get his new iPhone, then walks away, very proud of my purchase. The moment I put it up to my ear, I want people looking at the phone to know that I have the latest gadget”.

    You should be hearing loud alarm bells in your ears. You really need to get out more and make some friends. Real ones that is, not Facebook friends …

    • carrie

      your cute

  • Kuba

    “I’m the guy who sits in line on launch day to get his new iPhone, then walks away, very proud of my purchase”
    Yeah- keep walking away.Nice to see what your approach to life is. Mindless bot.

  • Chris

    Kevin, I have to say I agree with what the others have posted.

    I wouldn’t normally waste my time writing a reply to this, but I’m so off-put by this article I have to speak up.

    This article smacks of stuck up selfish egotistical arrogance, and is not worth the time I wasted reading it. There’s no real meat in anything you’ve said.

    A sad reflection on Appstorm’s editorial decision-making. Surely you can come up with better content, guys!

  • http://twitter.com/the_risingtide Matt

    I feel truly sad for you. Please look at what you wrote and ask yourself two things:

    1) Is this really how you feel? If so I think you should ask why you feel that way about a simple gadget and tying it so strongly to your self esteem.

    2) Does this article add anything of value to the readers? This is not why the iPhone 5 “Needs” to be redesigned, this is a shallow and petty revelation on your part as to why you would like it to be so. If you absolutely felt the need to publish this article, you could have at least titled it something more appropriate like “I Hope the iPhone 5 features a Redesign So I Can Feel Hip Again” so that I (and presumably others) could have skipped this article.

  • Thera

    “My 3GS cracked like everyone else’s”

    I must be one of the lucky ones then: mine doesn’t have a scratch despite I bring it everywhere (gotta love the Gariz cover: classy leather and resistant) :-)

  • http://www.twitter.com/ConnorTurnbull Connor Turnbull

    Indeed, I love the feeling of the new gadget. The excitement of using it is nice, and I certainly get a lot of attention, especially when I got my iPad.

    However, I don’t agree entirely with this article, unfortunately. I don’t think there should be an iPhone redesign, just so I look cooler. I would rather Apple spend their time & money investing in a better device functionally, rather than redesigning it.

    “That Fresh Gadget Feeling” is a nice side effect, but not necessarily the primary reason I buy.

  • David Canoa

    When i first saw the title i thought you was join going to talk about the antenna and the glass material…i was correct what i didn’t expect is to read that basically the iPhone has to be redesigned so people can look at you and feed your ego a little bit more.
    I’ve had an iPhone for a few months now and people who don’t like it simply knock it down, others just look and carry on.
    it’s a phone not a ferrari!

  • Jason

    I just read the article in my RSS feed and was compelled to say… wow, everyone else already said it (minus the one android comment about switching to it, to look different lol). Anyway, this is the first article from Envato that I felt was a complete waste of my time reading. Hopefully Kevin can recover from this because I love everything Envato supplies it’s readers with.

  • Mark M

    What facile crap.

  • http://www.ehometips.com rajeev verma

    I dont agree with you.Iphone 5 is an example of extremely desirable mobile and how phones should be made.Any changes will make it less than perfect in my eye.

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  • Aaron

    Like it or not, people buy the iphone, and apple products in general because you feel “apart of something better” I agree and understand that people including myself use an iphone to feel good that they have the latest gadget out there.

  • Richard

    Pretty much agree with everybody here.
    Aaron.. It’s is a piece of clever technology that costs next to nothing to own… How does that may you or like minded special?
    Wanna be special in this day and age??
    Help other people to have better lives.

  • Richard

    By that I mean I think the writer needs to get a mirror and look at himself and then “get a life”
    Sad if not satire.

  • http://www.signatureweddingaislerunners.com/Custom_Unity_Candles_s/4.htm Gary

    I am with you. It’s my money and this is what i want from it. I bought the white 4 just to stand out a bit. I would love to see a carbon fiber or even a fake carbon fiber back.

  • http://www.r410arefrigerant.net/ nirja sahini

    Before that iphone needs to take care of fake iphone stores in china.The number is 22 and counting.

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