Apple’s next smartphone — the anticipated “iPhone 7” — is expected to correct one of the biggest flaws with the iPhone 6 and 6S, namely a sensitive camera lens that protrudes out of the phone body. The lurching lens makes it impossible to lay the device perfectly flat without a protective case.
It’s a flaw that probably wouldn't have made it past the design stage while the late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, was in charge. That’s not to say that there weren’t any design fumbles during his tenure. But his reputation as a perfectionist inevitably means that virtually any product Apple launches is judged with those standards in mind.
It’s been nearly five years since his death, and during that time Apple has had some notable stumbles. Here’s a look at some of the design screw-ups that Jobs would have flipped out over:
iPhone 6/6S Camera Bump
Apple’s shift into larger-sized iPhones wowed crowds when they were unveiled in September 2014. Bigger screens, Apple Pay mobile payments and other features were the initial focus, but there was one feature that quickly drew attention as well — the unsightly protruding camera lens on the back of the iPhone 6. Even Apple’s own marketing materials from 2014 hid this flaw inside profile photos of the device, according to the Verge.
And if consumers wanted to lay it flat, they had to slap on a case. That being said, Apple is anticipated to fix that flaw with its next full iPhone redesign, which may launch in the second half of 2016, according to MacRumors.
iPhone 6 ‘Bendgate’ Controversy
“But does it bend?” Some early adopters of the iPhone 6 Plus got one additional feature they weren’t expecting — a bendable phone body. In the days following the iPhone 6 launch in September 2014, several Apple customers found the top quarter of their smartphones bent after placing them in their pockets.
At the time Apple claimed only a handful of consumers had contacted Apple support about bent iPhones. While it stopped short of admitting a flaw with its smartphone, Apple may have avoided a repeat of 2014 with its iPhone 6S by using stronger 7000-series aluminum for the rear case and making the device slightly thicker.
Apple Battery Pack Case
Speaking of bumps, Apple in December launched its own take on an iPhone battery case. For the most part, it resembles Apple’s standard silicone cases, but it also comes with a huge hump on the back to accommodate the external battery pack. Many critics panned the $100 case for its design, but some acquiesced that on an engineering side, it did the job.
Embracing Apple's ugly hump: Design dud, utility triumph: Apple's iPhone Smart Battery Case is ugly. It's also... https://t.co/8Tp7Kdc9sn
— Maya von Frieden (@MayavonFrieden) January 22, 2016
While we might have heard that kind of complaint about tech gadgets from other companies, it’s not something regularly directed at the iPhone maker’s labs.
Apple TV (Fourth Generation)
Apple’s latest streaming set-top box iteration isn’t terrible. It has streaming apps, access to games via the App Store, a faster processor and support for Siri. But at a starting price of $149, it really doesn’t offer much else compared to its 2012 predecessor, Amazon’s Fire TV or Google’s Chromecast. Apple was expected to launch the set-top box with its own dedicated live TV service where customers could subscribe to a handful of channels for about $30 a month.
But Apple was unable to come to an agreement over how much to pay content providers, forcing it to place the plans for the service on hold in December, according to Bloomberg. Instead Apple TV owners still have to sign up for individual services or have a cable subscription in order to use many of the third-party streaming apps available on the box.
When iTunes launched over 15 years ago, it was a simple and easy-to-use app where Mac owners could easily manage their growing music library. Fast forward to today and it’s hard to say exactly what Apple is trying to achieve with it. There are music features, the App Store, TV Stores, Apple Music, iPhone syncing features and a whole hodgepodge rolled into one bloated piece of software.
If you could get past the laggy interface, there’s the whole other matter of actually finding what you’re looking for on the first try, since many of the features are buried in a labyrinth of menus. You’d probably have an easier time navigating the maze of New York’s Port Authority bus terminal blindfolded.
When customers use a mapping app on their smartphone, they expect accurate directions. But when Apple Maps launched in 2012 with iOS 6, iPhone users quickly found it was riddled with missing location data, incorrect spelling of cities and wrongly placed points of interest. This resulted in some wildly incorrect driving directions that pointed drivers to areas such as runways or the middle of the wilderness. The public fallout resulted in the departure of two high-profile Apple executives, including former Apple iOS software chief Scott Forstall and former Apple Maps project manager Richard Williamson, according to Bloomberg.
While Maps has significantly improved since then, its early reputation has continued to live on in other ways, including a not-so-subtle nod in the HBO original series “Silicon Valley.”
As the successor to Beats Music, Apple’s music streaming service in June 2015 promised easy access to millions of songs at your fingertips for a monthly fee. But once consumers got past the initial sheen, its flaws started to stick out like a sore thumb. There were little issues, such as music that would automatically pause when jumping between the street and no signal areas, such as subways. In more severe cases, Apple Music’s companion iCloud Music Library could sometimes corrupt users’ desktop iTunes collection metadata or delete content entirely, according to AppleInsider.
While not much of an upside, at least early adopters didn’t have to pay for the service for the first three months due to the free three-month trial period.