Design compromises?

  • Posted: 27 March 2012 09:01 AM

    I remember Apple last year saying they would not be making design compromises in order to put LTE chips in the iPhone, and now it would seem like they did just that for the new iPad. The thickness actually increasing from last year seems like the definition of a design compromise, and I know it didn’t increase much but I am wondering if we can expect to see more of these little design compromises in the new iPhone and in other future products. Am I overreacting or has anyone else thought about this?

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  • Posted: 27 March 2012 09:18 AM #1

    cdodge - 27 March 2012 12:01 PM

    I remember Apple last year saying they would not be making design compromises in order to put LTE chips in the iPhone, and now it would seem like they did just that for the new iPad. The thickness actually increasing from last year seems like the definition of a design compromise, and I know it didn’t increase much but I am wondering if we can expect to see more of these little design compromises in the new iPhone and in other future products. Am I overreacting or has anyone else thought about this?

    I have thought about it.

    I think most consumers would have yelled and hollered about lower battery life than with a very slight increase in thickness.

    I am not concerned about decisions made on the new iPad.

         
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    Posted: 27 March 2012 10:17 AM #2

    cdodge - 27 March 2012 12:01 PM

    I remember Apple last year saying they would not be making design compromises in order to put LTE chips in the iPhone, and now it would seem like they did just that for the new iPad. The thickness actually increasing from last year seems like the definition of a design compromise, and I know it didn’t increase much but I am wondering if we can expect to see more of these little design compromises in the new iPhone and in other future products. Am I overreacting or has anyone else thought about this?

    Of all the upgrades Apple made in the new iPad, you can’t concentrate on a 1mm increase in thickness as a design compromise.  Let’s see if an Android vendor can compete will all the upgrades that the new iPad have, along with batter life, and see how close they come.

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  • Posted: 27 March 2012 10:27 AM #3

    Steve really just mis-spoke.  Design is all about compromise…,or choices as it were.  He just wasn’t willing to make the compromises necessary to make the under $500.00 computer that was being discussed at the time.  Think about all the compromises necessary to make the original MacBook Air and the addressable market vs. the product as it exists today.  The original was a huge compromise (guessing here) that was viewed as a learning project as much as anything.

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    Posted: 27 March 2012 11:13 AM #4

    Actually it was _Tim_ that made those remarks during the VeriPhone Q&A.

    Thicker products are not without precedent in Steve Jobs’ world.  The iPod is one example.

    Then again, Apple is Tim’s company now, and in any case was always a bit more practical than it was given credit for.  The iPad is still very thin, yet robust.  New iPad owners would never know the iPad was “unwieldy” because it isn’t.

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  • Posted: 27 March 2012 12:21 PM #5

    Design is definitely about compromise and to a large degree, form follows function. I’m sure the decision to use a retina display had a cascade effect on all of the engineering that went into the design and a lot of revision and compromises were needed simply because of the bigger battery. I think what it says to me is that the end-user experience is still paramount to Apple, and if that meant it being 1mm thicker, then so be it.

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    Posted: 27 March 2012 12:26 PM #6

    There are no fundamental design compromises from iPad 2 to the new iPad. There are always nominal compromises in any design.

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  • Posted: 27 March 2012 12:58 PM #7

    afterglow - 27 March 2012 01:17 PM

    Of all the upgrades Apple made in the new iPad, you can?t concentrate on a 1mm increase in thickness as a design compromise. .

    Actually it’s only 0,6 mm. That’s about the thickness of a fingernail! Invisible to the naked eye.

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    Posted: 27 March 2012 01:09 PM #8

    IMO the biggest compromise in the iPad was the amount of storage. Solid State Memory is still expensive enough that they decided to limit it to 64Gb to meet the price point. Imagine if SS memory were significantly cheaper. Imagine an iPad with 256 or 512 GB of RAM. Then you could have all of your photos and music and videos with you all the time. Then the iPad would be a quantum level more useful. This one change would go a long way toward making the iPad a desktop replacement for a lot of people. Don’t get me wrong The iPad is a great device, but the compromise they had to make, Storage v. Price, has limited it. I have to decide which music and what subset of photos to carry and now with Apps getting larger to feed the retina display I think I might need to start making choices on what of those to keep on the iPad all the time. I suspect though if they had released the iPad with half a Tb of RAM at $2000 it would not have sold so that seems like a smart compromise to me.

    [ Edited: 27 March 2012 01:49 PM by geoduck ]

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    Posted: 27 March 2012 02:08 PM #9

    Back to the original post. I don’t think the compromise in iPad (thickness) was to address the LTE chip but rather the battery, as others have pointed out.  Apple always is pushing the state of the art and has been particularly aggressive with battery life. They see this as a key differentiator for the user experience. If iPhone v6 includes LTE and an edge to edge screen, it will be difficult to maintain the same thinness while retaining battery life. While not impossible, those features may trump a super-skinny new iPhone. At some point they may even be able to justify a thicker iPhone “because of the bigger screen and LTE” while trumpeting “improved talk and standby time”.

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  • Posted: 27 March 2012 02:18 PM #10

    cdodge - 27 March 2012 12:01 PM

    I remember Apple last year saying they would not be making design compromises in order to put LTE chips in the iPhone, and now it would seem like they did just that for the new iPad.

    My recollection is that the compromises they were initially faced with were beyond acceptability.  That is not the same as no compromises.  Like others here, I think the compromises in the iPad 3 are sensible.  Any hardware program has compromises.  With all of Apple’s experience, they would not be so naive to require no compromises at all.  For example, if they had not found a way to increase battery capacity by 70%, the new device would have had a dramatically shorter battery life.  They would definitely say no to that.

         
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    Posted: 27 March 2012 02:37 PM #11

    I did find the iPad to be unwieldy at times.  The iPad is best in when the user is seated or (no personal experience—>) perhaps in a dock.

    The iPad 1’s battery life was really nice, far superior to my iPhone 1.

         
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    Posted: 27 March 2012 02:39 PM #12

    Based on the the additional backlighting for the new display, Apple had to increase battery size, or give up on all day usability.  Displaymate ran the screen through vigorous testing and found

    Much more Power and Battery but not Thickness or Weight:  There are 4 times as many pixels in the display that need to be kept powered. Also 4 times as much memory and processing power is needed for the images. In addition, the light transmission of the LCD decreases as the pixel density increases, so a brighter Backlight is necessary. In fact, the number of Backlight LEDs has roughly doubled (from 36 to an estimated 72 to 82), so the Backlight power has approximately doubled. Since the display normally consumes about 50-60 percent of the total Tablet power, the new iPad needs at least a 50 percent larger battery. In fact, the battery increased from 25 to 42.5 watt hours, a 70 percent increase. Our measured Backlight power for the new iPad is 2.5 times the iPad 2 for the same screen brightness. In spite of the larger battery the running time at Maximum brightness in our tests was 5.8 hours, 20 percent less than the iPad 2?s 7.2 hours. But at the Middle brightness slider setting, which is closer to typical user settings, the running time was 11.6 hours, which is almost identical to the iPad 2, indicating that Apple has used an appropriately larger battery (and confirms Apple?s 10 hour claim). Surprisingly the overall iPad thickness increased by only 0.6mm (0.03 inches) and the weight increased by only 1.8 ounces (8 percent). That small increase in weight in spite of 70 percent more battery capacity indicates that the case and cover glass are significantly lighter.

    Apple has taken the very good display on the iPad 2 and dramatically improved two of its major weak points: sharpness and color saturation ? they are now state-of-the-art. Our lab tests and visual tests agree with Apple?s claim that the new iPad has ?the best display ever on a mobile device? so we have awarded the new iPad the Best Mobile Display Award in DisplayMate?s Best Video Hardware Guide.

    I suspect the original plan was to include Sharp’s new oxide TFT display but unfortunately it was not ready in time.  We also have a similar issue with the MDM 9600 vs the MDM 9615.  If Apple waited on the new baseband and screen we would have been complaining about the summer launch and Apple’s inability to keep a schedule.  IMO they have done an amazing job of integration and the fact that they could increase battery capacity 70% and pretty much keep the unit the same size is unbelievable.

         
  • Posted: 27 March 2012 09:15 PM #13

    I think what Apple has been able to accomplish in the new iPad is amazing as well. However I would like to play Devil’s advocate for a minute. Android devices are good at cramming tons of specs down your throat with a total disregard to how the product looks and feels in your hands. That is where Apple differentiates itself from its spec cramming competitors and I don’t want Apple to forget that. I realize this is a very small compromise they have made, I just don’t want it to open the floodgates to more and more compromises.

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    Posted: 28 March 2012 12:09 AM #14

    With the retina display, LTE, and much higher capacity battery, apple has set the standard for its iPad that will last for at least 2 more generations (the iPad 4 & 5).

    The next iteration or two will likely focus on getting the weight & thickness down (likely to be achieved by a lighter, thinner battery with similar or higher energy capacity), accompanied with small hardware improvements (stereo speakers, higher res front facing camera, maybe haptic feedback), and of course future software innovations.

    My point is that the iPad will very likely not be getting any thicker/heavier than it currently is, as there doesn’t appear to be any more big hardware improvements left on the near term horizon that would require it getting thicker or heavier because of bigger battery requirements.

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  • Posted: 28 March 2012 01:30 PM #15

    Functionality is the more important factor.
    I buy Apple products because they DO what I want them to and because of what I can DO with them.

    Design is the icing on the cake.
    Sometimes it (design) is part of the new functionality.  Sometimes it is just good look, good art and/or cool.