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Apple Designer on Why Curved Glass and Extruded Aluminum iPhone Designs Were Rejected

With court documents in the ongoing legal dispute between Apple and Samsung having yielded a remarkable number of design concepts and prototypes from the development of the iPhone and iPad, Network World has taken a look at testimony that explains why Apple rejected some of the ideas. The testimony comes from Doug Satzger, who spent 12 years in industrial design at Apple before moving on to Palm in early 2009 and then joining Intel earlier this year.

Most notably, Satzger reveals that Apple very much wanted to use a curved glass design for the iPhone, but cost considerations and technical hurdles forced Apple to change directions.
The technology in shaping the glass, the cost relative to shaping the glass at the time, and some of the design features of this specific shape were not liked. [...]

The technology at the time had a lot to do with it. The qualities of the glass at the time had a lot to do with it. These are models -- I'm trying to remember a time frame -- that were before gorilla glass and before a lot of the other factors.

"0355" iPhone prototype with curved glass on front and back

Satzger also addressed Apple's ideas for an extruded aluminum design similar to that of the iPod mini, noting that the design was rejected for both comfort and technical reasons.
My recollection of it was that to get the extruded aluminum design that was applied to the iPod to work for the iPhone, there were too many added features to allow it to be comfortable and to work properly. [...]

If you put an iPod up to your ear, the sharp edges, because of the processes, aren't comfortable, and you can't get antennas to work properly in a fully enclosed metal jacket. So each one of those things needed to apply other features that started.

iPhone with silver iPod mini-like extruded aluminum design (Source: The Verge)


Related roundup: iPhone 6

Top Rated Comments

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28 months ago
They still did it with the nano:

Rating: 30 Votes
28 months ago
I love stories like this (along with the other prototype leaks/stories). It gives such great insight into Apple & how they operate/think.
Rating: 20 Votes
28 months ago
Glad they thought twice about printing "MENU" on the home button.

The first one looks pretty slick imho, reminds me on a cooler Vertu version. I'd buy that.
Rating: 14 Votes
28 months ago
Avoiding antenna issues? Dodged a bullet on that one!
Rating: 14 Votes
28 months ago
It was rejected cause it looked ugly hahahaha!! :D
Rating: 10 Votes
28 months ago

They still did it with the nano:

Image (http://www.wikinoticia.com/images2//alt1040.com/files/2011/09/ipod_nano_curved_cover_glass1.jpg)


That wasn't a touchscreen though.
Rating: 10 Votes
28 months ago
Is it only me who thinks the curved glass looks phantastic?
Rating: 9 Votes
28 months ago

They still did it with the nano:

Image (http://www.wikinoticia.com/images2//alt1040.com/files/2011/09/ipod_nano_curved_cover_glass1.jpg)


Do you place the Nano over your ear? No.

Does the Nano utilize 3G and wi-fi capabilities? No.

The reasons were stated in the quote quite clearly.
Rating: 8 Votes
28 months ago

What this says to me: They wanted to try something different than the standard rectangular phones. They were forced, like everyone else, to design a rectangular phone with rounded edges because it obviously makes the most sense. Hence why patenting a certain shape is ridiculous for any company; it's the obvious route to go. You can make the rectangle look slightly different, but that's about it.


They didn't patent the rectangle. They patented a design that looks very much like an iPhone.
Rating: 7 Votes
28 months ago
Nokia managed to do curved glass on N9 and Lumia 800 and they both turned out awesome.
Rating: 6 Votes

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