My iPhone XR has made life miserable, and it shows a major change Apple needs to make in the post-Jony Ive era (AAPL)


iPhone X

  • My iPhone XR is way too big for my hands, creating endless struggles and annoyances in my day to day life. 
  • All I wanted was a phone with portrait mode, and now I’m miserable. 
  • My difficulties speak to Apple’s larger issues designing phones that are functional for women. 
  • With the departure of Apple’s chief design officer Jony Ive, one can hope that Apple will enter into a more inclusive era of innovation. 

My iPhone is too big. 

I can barely hold my iPhone XR in one hand. I’ve cycled through three PopSockets in three months, determined to find something to grasp onto. If I have a drink in one hand, half my phone is basically un-useable, as my thumb cannot reach the far side of the screen. (The letter “A” — so near yet so far.) I clutch my phone on the subway, paralyzed with fear that it will fall into the gap between the train and the platform. 

big iphone

Fortunately, I have a heavy-duty phone case. But, I imagine the day it bounces out of my control and gets run over by a truck. Or, when it falls off a ledge, plummeting straight into an unsuspecting civilian, causing near-fatal injuries.

Am I going to be sued? Will Apple cover the legal fees? Will I be sent to jail for a crime committed by my horrible, too big phone? 

While I do have the freakishly tiny hands of a baby at age 28, I’m not alone in my struggles. 

Read more: I’ve been using my iPhone X for nearly a month, and I’ve decided I hate it

In 2018, Apple faced backlash for its super-sized iPhone X lineup, with many women calling out the company for ignoring the practical realities of people with smaller hands. 

“I’m not saying Apple is being evil and deliberately setting out to design phones that injure women by being too big for the average female hand,” Caroline Criado-Perez, a campaigner and journalist who developed a repetitive strain injury from using an iPhone with a 5.5 inch screen, told The Independent.

“They are simply part of an industry — and a world — that consistently fails to remember that women are 50 percent of the population,” Criado-Perez continued. 

At the time, I vaguely agreed. Now that I’ve fallen into the trap of buying a new iPhone of my own, I am furious. 

My preemptive responses to everyone who thinks I’m an idiot

iPhones Lydia 5

“Well, Kate,” I can already imagine you typing into an email, “Why didn’t you just buy an older, smaller phone?” 

Because I wanted portrait mode, duh. I want to look hot in my pictures! All I want in life is to look good on Instagram and to scroll aimlessly on my phone while I’m waiting for the subway. Apple should not force me to choose between the two. The smallest iPhones with portrait mode are the iPhone 7 plus and iPhone 8 plus, both of which have five and a half inch screens — slightly smaller than the XR, but still, I have found, too big for my hands. 

Read more: Here’s why Apple’s ‘Portrait Mode’ feature only works on some iPhones and not others

Again, I’m not alone on this one. More than one woman I’ve spoken with has expressed a similar tension between her desire for portrait mode and her fear of an over-sized phone. 

“Well, just buy a non-Apple phone, you idiot,” I see you writing in another e-mail, cc-ing my boss calling for my resignation. 

To which I say — no! I have gotten used to Apple running my life. They already have all my data, and I like the basic infrastructure and connection between devices. 

Anyway, I’m not going to read a million other phone reviews in an effort to figure out what non-Apple phone is best for me. I write about fast food, not tech. I shouldn’t have to become an expert in technology before spending several hundred dollars on a phone. I don’t make you all read my fast-food backlog to decide what you’re ordering at McDonald’s. 

Goodbye Jony Ive

Jony Ive

Why am I complaining about this now? 

For one thing, I’ve been complaining about it out loud pretty much every day since I got a new phone in April, and everyone is sick of listening to me. 

But, I also wanted to write this now because of the departure of Apple’s chief design officer Jony Ive. 

“Ive, described as the Lennon to Jobs’ McCartney, is … the man who essentially changed the way we consume media on the go with the invention of the iPhone, the iPad, and other iconic hardware,” reports Business Insider’s Shona Ghosh.

In revolutionizing the way that we consume media, Ive consistently skewed towards a certain type of male customer. Back in 2008, as Apple entered the iPhone 3G era, iPhone faced backlash for making a phone that was essentially impossible to use with long fingernails.

People adapted, with voice-to-text services and adjusting the angle used to type. But, again and again, Apple has shown that the iPhone isn’t created with women in mind. 

Instead, the needs outside of those of a cisgender American man tend to be a footnote, with tweaks made after the product hits the market. It took Apple a year after the launch of its HealthKit platform to add a period tracker — something that would be significantly more common to track than blood glucose level for a significant portion of the population. 

Apple did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on this issue. 

While Ghosh notes that Apple isn’t churning out hardware innovation like it used to, Ive’s departure signals a new era for Apple. Hopefully, it’s an era that looks at the population more broadly when developing new products. 

Even if some things never change, I hope and pray that the rumors are true and that the new era brings a new, smaller phone that might actually fit in my hands. And, please let it have portrait mode.  

SEE ALSO: Apple will be just fine without Jony Ive — sorry, Jony

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