iPhone 4S over 5

A hefty Bang & Olufsen remote control

I thought I was one of the few people who preferred iPhone 4S over 5 until an article in LA Times caught my eye:

So many consumers are opting to buy older iPhone models that some analysts wonder whether Apple has lost its ability to create new versions that dazzle.

I am not the type to stand in lines to be the first to get my hands on a new device. The arrival of iPhone 5 was no different, I waited a few weeks until the hooha around it had died down before heading over to a local Apple Store.  I had been using my two year old iPhone 4 with a broken glass and thought it was finally a good time to upgrade.  But when I picked up an iPhone 5, it felt like it was made of cheap plastic — it was strangely light.  I am quite fond of the feel of the iPhone 4, so instead I replaced my broken (actually bent) old phone with a new 4S.

iPhone 5’s lack of heft reminded me of this passage from John Maeda’s Laws of Simplicity:

Sometimes mixing actual and perceived qualities works well, like in the design of the Bang & Olufsen remote control.  The unit is thin and slender in composition and made with the finest materials, but is significantly (and intentionally) heavier–as a means to subtly communicate higher quality–than you would expect from its appearance.

I have always appreciated Apple products not only for their software but also for the high quality of their hardware.  And I am sure Apple’s design team pays close attention to details like the perceived weight of the device.  The latest iPhone somehow managed to defy both expectations.