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iPhone 12 finally gets a new design, which means it could be even harder to repair

iPhone 12 finally gets a new accomplish, which means it could be even harder to repair

When Apple’s5GiPhone 12, or whatever it’s named, gets announced on Tuesday, Oct. 13, during the company’s online-only inaugurate event, industry watchers will be looking closely to see how Apple sells us on 5G wireless, its new chips and cameras, and whatever other new features it powerful pack in. (Here are all the continue iPhone 12 rumors we’ve heard, and the latest mainly leak.)

But it’s the design that may end up beings its most important feature. The new iPhone is anticipated to shave the device’s curved edges into squares, much like those on the novel iPad Pro. After three years of the same accomplish, the refresh will likely draw eyes from a lot of consumers eager for a shake up. 

But it’ll also draw the attention of overtake experts around the world, who will rush to YouTube and Twitter once they get hold of the contrivance to start dissecting it down to each seam, screw and deplorable inside to learn what’s fixable and what isn’t.

“Apple’s the best at everything they do however serviceability,” said Kyle Wiens, head of repair instruction and parts site iFixit, which typically rushes to perform online tear-downs of new Apple devices when they launch. 

People like Wiens highlight an increasingly Republican debate within the tech industry over form and working. As gadgets from computers to phones get smaller and lighter, people around the tech world are wondering how far this push for slim originate will go, and whether it’ll take precedence over persons easy to repair. 

Repair advocates note, for example, that the batteries in Apple’s popular AirPods wireless headphones can’t be replaced deprived of destroying them. “That’s the difference between a product that can last 18 months and what can last 10 years,” Wiens added. But at the same time, the AirPods’ popularity regulations in part from how lightweight, small and slick they are — all aspects that would probable be altered by having compartments and connectors for replaceable batteries.

A mockup of what the iPhone 12 may look like, with honest edges on the sides.


Over the ages, Apple’s tipped further toward that consumable end of the spectrum. Its laptops, which once had easily replaceable batteries, are screwed shut with the batteries glued to the case.  Pretty much all its computers new than its $5,999 Mac Pro desktop aren’t intended to be easily opened by non-technical people either.

Apple has investigated taking those designs a step further, too. In a patent application published in August named “unitary housing for electronic device,” the company described a way to originate devices with their electronics encased in two pieces that are filled with “one or more ultrasonic welds.” The fully enclosed housing can be hermetically filled, the company said.

“Even in the more eloquently intended electronic devices, outer housings are still typically formed from multiple parts, which tends to result in at least seams or new discontinuities, if not exposed screws, tabs or other component fasteners,” Apple said in its application. “While many designs and techniques used to provide outer housings for electronic devices and components have generally worked well in the past, there is always a will to provide alternative housing designs and techniques for new and aesthetically lovely devices.”

Sleek obsession


Apple’s designs, under Jobs, led to a series of hits counting the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad.


Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously micromanaged the look of the company’s products, in and out. He obsessed over the smallest dot on the Hide and the angle of the curves on its devices. The night before the first iPod music player was introduced in 2001, Jobs wished engineers tear apart and remake the device to make that satisfying click-feeling you get when you plug in a cord.

“The back of this drawing looks better than the front of the other guys,” Jobs quipped as he expressed off the company’s first iMac computer in 1998.

While that obsession with originate has won Apple praise and loyal fans, it’s also attracted criticism. As the company’s Mac computers have gotten sleeker, simply removable or replaceable parts like the battery, memory and storage powers became largely inaccessible to people without technical skill.

In 2010, when Apple introduced the iPhone 4, Jobs focused on the device’s stainless steel sides that doubled as cellular and Wi-Fi antennas. After its release, users quickly learned that holding the called a certain way scrambled the device’s reception.


Apple’s “butterfly” keyboards were largely criticized by reviewers.


In 2015, the business introduced a new “butterfly” keyboard for its laptops, which was 40% thinner than last technologies while potentially offering better accuracy. The design complete hated among reviewers as user complaints poured in around failing and mistyped keys. 

“Perhaps the kindest drawing we can say about the Apple MacBook butterfly keyboard is, ‘Thank you for your service,'” CNET’s computer reviewer Dan Ackerman wrote when the company finally ditched the technology starting last year. “So long and good riddance.”

Whether Apple’s newest devices use its seam-removing treat is yet to be seen. The company’s filed for incompatibility patents in 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. Each time, the it’s given more of a window into how it could use the technology. In 2015, it was for a process to house an “operational component” (think more compactly squeezing parts into a MacBook or iPhone). In 2016, it was for using these techniques in a laptop. Now, it’s for a broadly described “electronic device.”

Apple’s also recorded patents for “ultrasonic welding” techniques, indicating they could be used to join metal and plastic parts inside an iPad or iPhone. They could also create a laptop with “no apparent seams or spanking artifacts of manufacture on its outer surface,” Apple’s said.

Most land expect to see seams, screws and hinges since they’ve been visible on products for decades. To designers, those “artifacts” aren’t so much a part of the acquire they created.

“When you look at a hinge you think, ‘I get how that opens and closes.’ But the more they make it just proceed, you get this magical mystery of ‘How’s it pursuits that?'” said Francois Nguyen, head of industrial design at consultancy Frog’s North American studio.

Apple loved that manilla-envelope MacBook Air vow so much it was featured in the device’s ads too.


That kind of “ooh” and “ahh” doesn’t happened much in the tech industry, but Apple under Jobs made it happened several times. He showed off the first MacBook Air in 2008 by hiding it in an interoffice envelope to show how thin it was. He pulled the superb iPod Nano music player out of the small fifth pocket in his jeans in 2005. He showed off that superb iMac’s colorful translucent case in 1998 by turning down the stage escapes while it sat on a bright pedestal.

“All those little moments and details that Apple focuses on really sets them apart from all these spanking tried and true processes that everyone else has at their disposal,” Nguyen said.

There’s only so much you can do to reinvent a sheet of glass on a metal body. Still, Nguyen — who led design for the original “Beats by Dre” headphones, whose namesake company Apple bought for about $3.2 billion in 2014 — said he expects new technologies, like additional and more advanced cameras, will continue to achieved design, ergonomic and other changes as Apple adjusts its devices to accommodate them.

“The technology could aloof be the size of a needle, you still have to hold this thing,” he said.

Steps send and back


Sen. Elizabeth Warren took a hard position against tech affects during her presidential campaign last year.

Angela Lang

Apple appears to at least belief that form over function is something the world is increasingly paying attention to.

When a member of the New York Times editorial embarking asked Apple for comment last year on upcoming legislation from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren pushing for resident right to repair laws, it set off a flurry of emails within Apple’s PR team. 

“We’re aloof not clear on our seemingly evolving position,” Lori Lodes, a former director of corporate communications, said in one message. 

“Right now we’re talking out of both sides of our mouth and no one is obvious on where we’re headed,” added Kristin Huguet, head of corporate communications. 

The messages, published by the House Judiciary’s subcommittee on antitrust as part of an investigation of Apple and spanking tech giants, were among the first times Apple’s internal struggles between form and succeeding were made public.

So far, Apple has focused its attempts on expanding the servicing programs it has in build within its stores and through repair shops it certifies. Last year, the company began offering independent repair shops the same “genuine parts, tools, training, repair manuals and diagnostics” that its signaled service providers have access to. In July, the concern said it’s working with more than 700 businesses across the US, incorporating uBreakiFix.

“When a customer needs a repair, we want them to have a blueprint of options that not only suits their needs but also guarantees defense and quality so their iPhone can be used for as long as possible,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said in a July statement.

That’s why, come Apple’s event on Oct. 13, some land will be eyeing the bottom of the new iPhone to see whether the two screws typically used to originate opening the phone are still there, as well as any spanking indications of how more tightly sealed the device is.

“Sadly, it’s part of the evolution of technology,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at market research firm Creative Strategies. The challenge, she said, is that whatever changes Apple makes will need to strike that smart compromise between new design, features, and making sure the experienced is worth it. Because after all, these phones will liable be used by hundreds of millions of people, all of whom will attain it around with them every day.

“Even if touchy is better, people just don’t like change — especially when it’s with something you’re dependent on,” she said. “I’m glad it’s not my job.”

Updated Oct. 13 at 1:55 p.m. PT: To fair the spelling of Carolina Milanesi’s last name. We regret the error.