For a 2 trillion dollar company, Apple surely has made a name for itself when it comes to the massive sales of its’ iPhones, the industry standard Mac Pro, and their student friendly lineup of Macbook Air and iPads. However, this ride has not been as trouble-free as people would have imagined, thanks to Apple’s Vision, priorities and business strategies. In this article, we will discuss such shortcoming of Apple in the Design and Decision Department (in no particular order).
iPhone 6 Bendgate
As soon as Apple’s flagship iPhone 6 and 6 Plus hit the market back in 2014, reports started coming in from customers about their brand-new iPhones getting bent. The iPhones did not come already bent from their assembly line; however they were getting bent after applying very little force, or by putting them in trouser pockets. Lew from Unbox Therapy released a video titled iPhone 6 bend test shortly. Over the years this video has been watched by 72 million people, and surely has spread a lot of buzz among the people.
In response to the bendgate, following was said about the possibility of Apple Warranty covering this bent-iPhone 6 situation –
‘There is a test called a Visual Mechanical Inspection that the device will have to pass. If it is within the guidelines, they will be able to cover it. If not, the replacement would be a paid one.’
In 2018 reports came that Apple actually knew about this chassis weakness before the phone was released, however the phones were not revoked. In the next generation, i.e. the iPhone 6S this issue was thankfully resolved by strengthening the body of the device.
Removal of Headphone Jack from iPhone 7
This trend of removing the headphone jack from phones was started by Apple, back then it was a very bold move. Their reasoning behind this was to free up space for more and/or better components inside the iPhone and to improve the overall experience of interfacing with audio on iPhones in general.
Such an aggressive move helped push the world towards a more wireless future, or a more expensive world thanks to the Airpods being pricey compared to wired alternatives. In their defence, they did provide the lightning to 3.5mm adapter so that consumers could use their old headsets, at least till the iPhone X. Starting from iPhone XS, they stopped providing this dongle and it was available as a side accessory.
Initially they were mocked by rivals for this move, but in the upcoming years all the major Flagships one by one, decided it was the time to bid farewell to Headphone Jacks and followed Apple by getting rid of the headphone jack in their Flagship devices.
Type C Ports in 2016 Macbook Pro
In 2016, all the models of Apple Macbook Pro had all ports removed. Only USB Type C was there, along with a headphone jack. The 13-inch variant had only 2 Type C ports while the 15 inch and 16-inch versions had 4 such ports. Thankfully the headphone jack wasn’t removed from the Macbooks. We agree Type C is the future but removing all the ports and providing just Type C ports was again a very aggressive move from Apple.
On one hand they are pushing for a Type C only future by providing only Type C ports on Macbooks and iPad Pros, but on the other hand they are still making do with the Lightning Connector on their iPhones and non-pro iPads, is this a Perfect Type C future? This was a classic Apple move – Create a problem, sell a solution. And yes they in fact are earning a lot of money by selling these Type C/Lightning Port dongles.
$700 Wheels for Mac Pro
All hell broke loose when Apple announced $700 wheels as an optional accessory for their brand new Mac Pro, which itself was very upscale in its pricing. This accessory was targeted towards a very small proportion of people, however it had a massive effect on a general tech consumer’s mind. Apple did this to regenerate the perception of Apple as a Luxury brand rather than a consumer brand. The only thing it gained for Apple was a lot of Publicity and Marketing. They probably did not sell a lot of such wheels but this re-instigated the idea of Apple being a luxury Brand in the minds of consumers.
$17,000 Apple Watch Gold Edition
Apple released the $17,000 Gold Edition Smartwatch in 2015 and it definitely made a statement. It created an air of luxury around the rest of the Apple Watches, people associated and still associate Apple Watch with other luxury items, even though not all models are the Gold editions.
One would think that if someone is spending that much money on a watch, he/she will spend it on a mechanical watch, at least that would hold its value over time, unlike the Apple Watch which lost all software support after just 3 years of its release. After 2018, the watch could not be upgraded to the latest version of WatchOS and the user is essentially stuck with that software for the rest of his life.
$300 Picture Book
In November 2016, Apple released their Picture Book. The 13″ x 16.25″ edition cost $299 and contained 450 photographs of past and current (2016) Apple Products. All these photographs were new images shot by Andrew Zuckerman.
The main aim was to show off 20 years of Apple Design in a deliberately spare style. This book covers products from 1998’s iMac to 2015’s Apple Pencil, also documents the materials and techniques used by Apple’s design team over two decades of innovation and was dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs.
In the foreword they mentioned –
“While this is a design book, it is not about the design team, the creative process or product development. It is an objective representation of our work that, ironically, describes who we are. It describes how we work, our values, our preoccupations and our goals. We have always hoped to be defined by what we do rather than by what we say.
We strive, with varying degrees of success, to define objects that appear effortless. Objects that appear so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative.”
$1000 Pro Display Stand
Alongside their Mac Pro and Pro Display, Apple announced this 1000$ accessory, which is used for mounting this $5000 display on a flat table. In terms of functionality this stand offers nothing extra, as people might have expected considering the $1000 it costs. At this price you can buy yourself a flagship iPhone, or a mid tier windows laptop/pc or even a Macbook Air if you are a student.
This isn’t a measure of Apple overcharging for something, it’s a measure of Apple selling a niche product with that niche customer and their niche budget in mind. Although it is a fact that they could have mentioned this in a different way – by mentioning that the Display costs $6000, but without the stand it costs $5000, which is thousands of dollars cheaper than displays of similar professional grade specifications.
This was a rare situation where Apple unveiled a new product on stage, but decided to cancel it before it even went on sale. When announced in 2018, Apple Airpower was a one of a kind device. Being able to charge an iPhone, Airpods and Apple Watch all together on the same wireless charging pad together at the same time was something that had not been done before. AirPower was designed to be more than just another charging mat. It was a whole wireless charging system that allowed devices to communicate and manage power consumption between them.
However, In March 2019, Apple’s Senior Vice President of hardware engineering, Dan Riccio, made a statement on the project,
“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project. We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward.”
There have been a few leaks in 2020 regarding the restart of this project but until Apple confirms, we just have to wait.
2018 iPad Pro Bendgate
Once again, a professional grade flagship device from Apple started to show design flaws. Multiple reports regarding the 2018 iPad Pro having a weak chassis came and they were proved to be true by multiple people who performed the bend test on the iPad Pro 2018 version. The main reason behind this was a microphone hole in the middle of the edge of the iPad Pro. Due to this one tiny hole, the entire body has become structurally weak. Applying very slight force will bend the ipad and it will ALWAYS bend from the same microphone region.
Apple also confirmed to The Verge about this issue and stated that some of its 2018 iPad Pros are shipping with a very slight bend in the aluminum chassis. But according to the company, this is a side effect of the device’s manufacturing process and shouldn’t worsen over time or negatively affect the flagship iPad’s performance in any practical way. Apple does not consider it to be a defect. The bend is the result of a cooling process involving the iPad Pro’s metal and plastic components during manufacturing, according to Apple.
Many people returned these iPads but this seemed to be a common trend, because even the replacement iPads were having such bending issues. Even in the 2020 model, this microphone hole is present which allows the whole Chassis to be bent easily by applying very little force. People are calling this the Bendgate 3.0, all we can recommend is – use a strong case/cover and try not to keep the iPad Pro in your backpack.
Apple first released the Butterfly Keyboard in the 12 inch Macbook Air 2015, and this was introduced as a brand new 40% thinner design than the traditional scissor switches. However, the majority of the people who purchased the Macbook with this keyboard faced issues where several keys were not working, some keys falling out, keys that registered twice when clicked once, etc.
In 2016, Apple brought the second generation of this keyboard to the Macbook Pro, but still most of the people faced this issue. Many articles were published regarding the same, the problem was worsening day by day. Change.org petitions, songs about the issue and even a Class Action Lawsuit was faced by Apple due to this.
Apple then introduced a free repair program for the older models, because the newer models were covered under Apple warranty. They then launched the third edition of Butterfly Keyboard in July 2018, and that too was having exactly similar problems. Finally in March 2019, Apple Apologized to all the customers who faced issues because of this and accepted their design flaw. A report suggested that more than half of the third generation keyboards were failing. It was time to get rid of the design altogether, which was fortunately implemented in the 2020 model.
After the launch of iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, many users complained that their phone was overheating a lot and the battery was also draining very quickly. Multiple users posted photos of their batteries literally swollen from the heat, and breaking the chassis of the iPhone 8.
All models of the 15-inch Macbook Pro sold between September 2015 and February 2017 were in danger of having their batteries overheat and pose a safety threat. Consequently Apple decided to recall a few faulty models. Due to this, Directorate General of Civil Aviation India also placed a restriction on carrying this model inside flights as checked-in baggage or hand-baggage until the battery has been verified/certified as safe by the manufacturer. Not only in India, but all around the world, multiple airlines placed a restriction on travelling with this particular model of the Macbook Pro.
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