How Apple Can Take the iPhone to the Next Level
Stronger glass, better cameras, longer battery life, and other improvements I still want to see in the iPhone
I’ve seen a lot of discussion lately about the iPhone — or just phones in general — being “good enough.” The argument is that most of our phones already do most of the things most of the people need most of the time. Apple, Samsung, Google, and everyone else should just chill out and stop updating them every year. iPhone 12? Who needs it. It’s exhausting. Enough already.
But are phones really good enough?
Maybe the iPhone (even the hotly rumored upcoming iPhone 12) and maybe all current and expected phones this year are just scratching the surface of their potential.
We’re already seeing some cameras and sensors move behind the display and I expect that’ll continue until all we’re left with is a clean, clear screen, bezel-free for as far as the eye can see.
But what we really need are screens that won’t get scratched or break as easily as they do now. The iPhone is practically responsible for bringing Corning’s Gorilla Glass to mainstream phones, and that ion-exchange chemistry still requires a lot of tuning between strength and hardness, but they still scratch and crack.
The sapphire that covers Apple Watch screens has proven much more resilient. Apple did try to bring sapphire glass to the iPhone. The company even built an entire factory to make it work, but the economics didn’t scale. At least not back then.
But, I’m hoping very much that Apple and other manufacturers haven’t stopped trying with sapphire or with other potential hybrids, because our phones really do need to become more resilient. They also shouldn’t be slipping out of our hands and off tables and pretty much everything else so damn always.
Glass backs have been a blessing when it comes to inductive charging, but starting with the Nexus 4, continuing with the iPhones 8 through 11, and perhaps culminating in the frictionless devilry that is the Galaxy Flip, glass backs have also been a curse when it comes to falling off of everything.