eXtensions - Wednesday 15 November 2017
eXtensions - The Wednesday File (31): iPhone X Arrival - For and Against
By Graham K. Rogers
My current 13" MacBook Pro, which is one of the first with the TouchBar, arrived just under a year ago, so I wanted to increase the warranty protection: that had proved an investment the last time with a screen replacement and another problem that might have been expensive. This time I am on my own.
I did mention Christina Bonnington last week, who seemed more put out by the point that Apple had not loaned her an iPhone like all the other boys and girls, so was determined to find fault: or at least potential fault, nit being able to check the theories by herself. Instead she cherry-picked three commentators who had been less then enthusiastic about the new gestures, omitting all those who wrote positively about them.
We also had analysis from her regarding FaceID and the hornet's nest of risks that users could be exposed to, ignoring the point that Apple had specifically restricted what developers were able to access. Natasha Lomas (TechCrunch) who has looked at this in depth, has a good analysis of what is and what is possible with FaceID. Without the need to resort to scary speculation, she does point out one or two areas that could be weak (such as the analysis by advertisers of moods) but provides plausible explanations of these too.
Not that this has stopped Ms Bonnington who has moved on from FaceID to the breakability of iPhones, with of course particular emphasis on the iPhone X, which she still does not appear to have had delivered yet. As she admits, Apple makes the screens with glass. This has a crystalline structure and, although Cupertino is pretty good on some things, Jony Ive has not yet found a way to beat physics.
My mother had a glass vase that was blown out of a window when we lived in north London and fell 10 floors to the ground below. Although the water was gone, the flowers were still in the vase which was undamaged. She later knocked it over on a wooden table and it shattered. Go figure. Some of my students have had their phone screens broken through dropping, but I have been lucky - extremely so as I have dropped iPhones from the 3G up to the 7 Plus, a number of times.
Concerning Apple's use of aluminum, Bonnington adds that this is "a material known as one of the softest, lightest metals available". Light, Yes. Soft? Is that why they make motorcycle wheels and aeroplanes out of it: does Boing know about this? Aluminium (or aluminum if you will) is used in engineering structures and components, where strength is important.
To be specific, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 6s are made out of aluminium 7000 which has "some of the highest strength aluminium alloy material on the market" (Smith Metal) and is used "extensively in industries such as aerospace".
Instead, Bonnington prefers Android phones made out of plastic, some of which "are terrific", adding, "They feel high-quality and are highly drop and scratch resistant because they're plastic." She also includes ceramic and carbon fibre as sure-fire alternatives to Apple's insistence on such inferior materials as aluminium.
Except for one teeny-weeny minor point here, Apple uses stainless steel for the frame of the iPhone X (the iPhone 8 is Al7000) - a point that is easy enough to check unless you are after cheap hits. Joe Rossingnol, MacRumors describes this: "A surgical-grade stainless steel band wraps around the edges of the iPhone X. It is an Apple-designed alloy."
Dropped wrongly, the iPhone X screen will break as will any device with a glass screen and there is nothing anyone can do about that, apart from sealing it in military grade protection devices.
Dilger takes this up, criticizing Jesus Diaz, who was mainly famous for the stolen iPhone 4 that Gizmodo refused to hand over. What the police report says about "animosity" and being "like 15-year-old children" may help to illustrate why he is still digging in the same hole, like Joanna Stern whom Dilger also criticizes.
Diaz also managed to stir The Macalope who takes this apart in a seemingly gentler way, but the humour makes it no less effective.
In perfect timing, and as a form of contradiction to these purely negative commentators, Daniel Bader over at Android Central has a good look at the iPhone X and although I do not agree with all of the points he makes, these are written in a purely objective fashion. This is not an Android only piece; nor is it at all anti-Apple, but is a good analysis of the new device, clearly stating what is good and where he prefers the Android (or specific handset) solution.
There are two key words there: predicted (I do not trust these pundits at all); and "worldwide" because so often the early comments only ever refer to sales of the devices in the US market, which is close to 30% of Apple's whole.
This was the process for an Apple Watch 2 owner in Konkhaen recently who was refused a warranty replacement point blank: the screen separation was obviously the customer's fault. Apple Support were a little more helpful, but even armed with the note from Apple the Konkhaen agent was reluctant although did send it to Bangkok where a replacement was arranged.
During the short email thread on Tuesday I was told that I still have a number of readers in that part of the world. Phuket users invited me down the year before the Tsunami and I was part of a forum discussion on the early Macs and OS X. I really should write more, but this time of year is student writing time: project proposals for electrical engineers. These students need considerable guidance as the education system lets them down considerably. Poor high school rote learning - they forget right after the exams - and no chance at all to use any English (let alone writing) until they are faced with me and a refusal to accept translation.
We will be done in a couple of weeks and I can sharpen my quill again.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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