Assuming Apple follows its two-year design cycle, this year’s iPhone is going to get an “S” upgrade, meaning it’ll look identical to the iPhone 6, but the major changes will be internal.
But what would an iPhone 7 look like? Designer Antonio De Rosa whipped up a concept that builds on the iPhone 6’s slim unibody design and nixes the longstanding Home button for the Apple Watch‘s digital crown.
What happens to the TouchID fingerprint sensor that’s embedded into the Home button? His concept moves it to the digital crown.
The digital crown is a revolutionary new way to interface with the touchscreen on the Apple Watch. It lets you zoom in and out, and scroll through menus without covering up the tiny screen with your finger.
Would a digital crown make sense on the iPhone? Actually, yes, it would. Let’s recall BlackBerry phones from eons ago; before they got trackballs and trackpads, they had a little “jog wheel” on the right side. This jog wheel was used to scroll quickly through long emails and messages.
Touchscreens eventually replaced the need for trackpads, trackballs and jog wheels, but as phones have become bigger they’ve also introduced a new problem: They’re impossible to use with one hand. Anyone who owns an iPhone 6 Plus will tell you so. A digital crown would make it somewhat easier to replicate scrolling, and zooming in and out, without much finger muscle movement.
Also, since De Rosa’s iPhone 7 concept doesn’t have a Home button, the physical dimensions of the iPhone — at least height-wise — would be smaller, which would also make it easier to operate with one hand.
However, the one thing I believe that De Rosa’s design gets wrong is the placement of the digital crown. It’s far too high up and not within thumb-reaching distance. Sony‘s Xperia Android smartphones use a circular power button located on the right side, but it’s just a button (albeit one that’s placed in the right spot). This iPhone 7 concept takes Sony’s established design cue, gives it the Apple Watch’s marquee feature and runs away with it.
The concept also streamlines the thick antenna bands that mar the back of the iPhone 6/6 Plus, moving it to the top for a more pleasing look. Interestingly enough, his design doesn’t flatten the protruding rear camera, something Apple senior vice president of design Jony Ive called a”pragmatic optimization.”
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