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.

curved glass iphone prototype
"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.

NewImage31
iPhone with silver iPod mini-like extruded aluminum design (Source: The Verge)

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Top Rated Comments

pgiguere1 Avatar
155 months ago
They still did it with the nano:

Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FSMBP Avatar
155 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.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chainprayer Avatar
155 months ago
Avoiding antenna issues? Dodged a bullet on that one!
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
twietee Avatar
155 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.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jynto Avatar
155 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.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jasonxneo Avatar
155 months ago
It was rejected cause it looked ugly hahahaha!! :D
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)