American vs. Middle Eastern Fingers

Apple has long prided themselves with not conducting user research. The users could not express what they do not know, Ashton quotes Jobs in the equally named biopic.

Henry Ford is famously quoted, that users would have wished for faster horses, had he asked them what they wanted.

However, with this confidence/ hybris of knowing what is right for the user, certain demographics slip through the cracks.

The Turkish, Arabic and English keyboard on the iPhone 5 (S).

The iPhone’s English (US) keyboard is pretty much perfect for typing. Combined with their autocorrect my typing speed is on par with that on a laptop.

The US keyboard has 10 characters in its top line, at a character width of 52px with 13px spacing between characters.

On an Arabic (or German for that matter) keyboard things get a little more tricky. 11 characters are in both top rows, reducing the character width to 48px and spacing to 11px. Typing on the German keyboard already includes noticeably more typos for me.

The Turkish keyboard is even more cramped. 12 letters at 42pixels each with 10px of spacing in between.

What a bigger keyboard would mean for
the iPhone screen

If you gave every character on the Arabic keyboard the same space as on the US keyboard, you would need a 4.4" screen.
If you gave the Turkish keyboard the space it needs and deserves, you would need a 4.8" screen.

Apple is probably aware by now that (apart from other reasons) the market demands bigger screens.
All markets that don’t use English keyboards would have been better catered by wider screens, a realization that user research would have shown and enabled Apple to go a different route with the iPhone 5, and ultimately put them in a better position outside the US.

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Maximilian Kiener

Maximilian Kiener

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