updated 12:20 pm EDT, Thu August 2, 2012
Former Apple worker reveals early plans at Samsung trial
At one point early into its development, Apple was considering using a curved glass display, a deposition from a former Apple designer reveals. Douglas Satzger is currently the VP of industrial design at Intel, but held several jobs at Apple between 1996 and 2008, such as Industrial Design Creative Lead and Industrial Design Manager. The deposition -- evidence in the ongoing Apple v. Samsung trial -- has Satzger saying that Apple had "strong interest in doing two pieces of shaped glass," seen in a prototype identified as 0355.
The curved glass was abandoned because of cost, Satzger explains. "The technology in shaping the glass, the cost relative to shaping the glass at the time, and some of the design features of this specific shape were not liked...The technology at the time had a lot to do with it. The qualities of the glass at the time had a lot to do with it. These are models -- Iím trying to remember a time frame -- that were before Gorilla Glass and before a lot of the other factors."
Another prototype used flat glass, but extruded aluminum for the shell. "My recollection of it was that to get the extruded aluminum design that was applied to the iPod to work for the iPhone, there were too many added features to allow it to be comfortable and to work properly...If you put an iPod up to your ear, the sharp edges, because of the processes, arenít comfortable, and you canít get antennas to work properly in a fully enclosed metal jacket. So each one of those things needed to apply other features that started," said Satzger.
The designer notes that Apple also tested several different bezel designs. "But from an appearance point of view, the design, if you will, it remained unchanged in any significant way through the process," he claims.
Mentioned in the deposition documents is a question to another Apple designer, Chris Stringer, on the matter of drop tests affecting the direction of Apple's work. "It changed as a result of those fine-tuning the design. From a composition point of view, we were trying to decide how much of a border we wanted around the glass, the angles, the dimensions, the corner radii. We excruciatingly put through how we wanted this thing to appear. So yes, it did take various forms along the way...I can tell you quite plainly that this shape is not determined as a result of drop tests."
A common complaint about the iPhone has been how easy it can be to break its screen if it drops. The worry has fueled a massive industry for iPhone cases, and sales of extended AppleCare warranties.