The iPhone X: An ode to ten years of iPhone design
Like many others, I was delighted to receive my iPhone X last week. Playing with it, I was amazed by the stunning screen, the sheer manufacturing precision and the smooth gestural interface.
I was also struck by how far it has come.
10 years ago, the first iPhones were in our hands and we were in awe at what a device its size could do. At the time, I also found the design of this device remarkable: it didn’t look like any other cellphone or Apple product. Its particular styling of metal and glass was a completely new thing. Apple would proceed to radically innovate in the industrial design of its iPhones for the next decade.
Looking at iPhone X, you can see how Apple has taken 10 years of those innovations in industrial design and essentially summarized it.
The iPhone X wraparound stainless steel band is an homage to the original, shiny-rimmed iPhone 2G:
Released in 2007, the iPhone 2G truly was quite a different device. Apple released both the iPod touch and the iPhone that year, but only the iPhone got the shiny metal band framing the screen.
This original incarnation of iPhone was followed by the iPhone 3G, the first iPhone to be entirely black, with a silver Apple logo on the back. The Space Grey iPhone X echoes this early aesthetic.
After the 3GS, it was followed by the iPhone 4 in 2010. iPhone 4 did something entirely new: the front and back were completely glass, a design feat that is also mirrored in the iPhone X.
The iPhone 4 will always be one of my favorite iPhone designs. It’s timeless.
iPhone 5 built on the industrial design of the iPhone 4 and 4S, and was the first to black out the metal band. While the iPhone X’s Silver version has the polished steel look of the original iPhone, the Space Grey iPhone X has a blackened steel band – a style introduced with the iPhone 5.
I love the iPhone 5. To me, iPhone has always looked best in black, and the iPhone 5 was Apple’s love letter penned to the color black. It may have chipped on the chamfered edges and wasn’t long lived—iPhone 5S did away with the black in favor of a more grey Space Grey—it’s still one of the most gorgeous colorways iPhone ever came in.
I’m happy we’re seeing a return to form with the iPhone X.
Finally, the iPhone X builds on the design language first introduced with the iPhone 6 and onward. It uses the ergonomic, rounded case of the iPhone 6 and 6S, the uninterrupted, brilliant feeling of the Jet Black iPhone 7, and of course it features the glass back of the iPhone 8.
The iPhone X is a design that condenses the essence of every past iPhone and somehow transcends it to become something entirely new.
It is an ode to 10 years of iPhone.