What do you think of iPhone 4's design?


iPhone 4 is the first redesign to hit the iPhone since 2008's iPhone 3G. Back then some users complained it was a ploy to make them buy new accessories. When iPhone 3GS landed in 2009 with essentially the same design, other users complained Apple was stale and unimaginative.

Cardfan in our forums says he wishes Apple had kept the iPhone 3GS/iPhone 3G design for another year as it's more comfortable to hold and less nerve-wracking to put down.

Personally I like the new look. It's all back-to-the-future, Leica industrial and Dieter Rams chic. The glass is a concern but it also seems more fully realized and more in keeping with Apple's product line in general.

So what do you think? Design win or fail? Vote in the poll and give us the details in the comments.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

What do you think of iPhone 4's design?


Imagine my shock when I voted and noticed that 100% of people thought the iPhone 4 is the best looking iPhone ever! (There will surely be dissenters)

At first, when the leaked images came out, I didn't like the way it looked. But after a while I came to accept it and like the new look. Its like when you are used to a certain thing for a long time (ex. 3GS design) it grows on you and you accept it, but when something new is introduced, you kind of disapprove of it for a while because it is different than what you are used to. Really like the new design!

With a case on it, I no longer feel like I will drop it and am enjoying it more than the 3g

3G and 3GS were alot sexier. New one looks more like an old samsung tmobile once carried. If it weren't for all the new features then I wouldn't want one.

Love this design, its pretty amazing to me. I jus wish that it didn't have the srews at the bottom. But other than that, yea, best design to date of the iPhone. Especially the White!

Personally, I think the new design is awesome.
I didn't like the 3G-3GS one so much because I thought the back was very cheaply made and it felt cheap. That's why I went back to the 2G because the metal back was so solid.

I think the 3gs was easier to hold than the squared off body of the 4. I personally also feel nervous about handling the 4 - like it's uber-fragile or something. Maybe because I just got it? I don't remember feeling this way about the 3gs, but maybe i just don't remember.

3gs was ugly. IPhone 4 is not as sexy as the pics make it seem. It is the best so far though. I like it but just not as much as I thought I would have.

My only complaint is that they should have changed the screen size as well. Actually, what I would like to see is less of the black bezel around the screen. More screen and less bezel would make it look more futuristic.

The new iPhone is definitely super slim and sexy. In the area of looks, it's a real beauty. In the area of durability it is another issue. Clearly all that glass represents an increased risk of damage if dropped. I haven't had any trouble holding mine. It's not nearly as slippery as the original or the 3G models.
I was able to keep my iPhone 3G looking like new for two years while working construction by putting a Zagg shield on the back and then shoving that inside a Griffin case.
I have seen Apple's new bumpers and they are incredibly sexy and provide extra protection to the delicate edges of the iPhone. The new iPhone with a bumper on is about as this as the old iPhone naked.
By keeping a bumper on my new iPhone 4 and keeping it in a dedicated pocket, I believe my iPhone 4 will remain in pristine condition for two years just like my iPhone 3G.

@Eagleyesmith - I'll take screws at the bottom if it means I can easily replace the battery, which I now can. The 3G and 3gs had them too, they were just recessed in holes.

Oops, I meant the new iPhone 4 with the bumper on is about as "thick" as the iPhone 3G.
Also, the bumper has the added benefit of alleviating the antenna shorting issue. :)
Personally, I think anyone who uses this phone without a case is a glutton for punishment.

Initially I preferred the feel of the rounded back and edges of my old 3G, but the new design is growing on me and I like how thin it is and how solid it feels.
I scuffed the back of my old 3G with my wedding ring in just a few days before I could get an invisibleShield skin on it. I've been using my i4 since last Wednesday morning without any case or skin and there isn't a mark on it yet.
Despite the signal issue when you short out the transmitting GSM antenna with the WiFi/Bluetooth antenna at the bottom left seam I still think it was a stroke of genius to incorporate the external antennas into the design and structure and am holding out for a software fix.

Like other people, at first I thought the design was unimaginative and same old thing, but now it is a beautiful design and feels sturdier than 3G/3GS.

Definitely a looker. But, I could tell by looking at images that it wasn't going to feel as thin as it is because of the genius design of the 3G/S. It doesn't. The 4 isn't a bad feel, but not as nice to hold, both for thickness and for the edges.
I'll be honest though, I'm tired of the Braun/Leica/Dieter Rams discussion (name-dropping). It's played out.

Gee i start a thread and get called out..lol
I just want to say that it looks great. Slick, sexy, however you want to describe it. But looks aren't everything.
My main complaint was in using it (without a case). And this has nothing to do with reception bugs. I've never used cases before..always out of the box.
But in using the new phone, it's more uncomfortable to use especially for long periods. Maybe its the way i hold the phone but having metal edges pressed against you gets annoying. I think the new iphone is actually more prone to slipping out of hand.
Bottom line....if Apple made a "classic" version using a 3GS form factor, i'd be all over it.

I love the new design. I don't really use cases or accessories with phones so I was disappointed the 3GS didn't get a fresh look. This phone is beautiful and I'm so glad it has a flat back again!! I hated to see my 3G wobble like a bobblehead on a smooth surface. I love that the plastic is gone and I love seeing that slick steel around the edge. Basically, I just love it.

At first, when those Gizmodo idiots posted their "exclusive" pix and videos, I didn't like it. But now that I understand the form-follows-function concept, and now that I actually have one, I do like it. In real life, iPhone 4 seems much slimmer than it looks in any photos. And it seems easier to grip without dropping, since the sharper edges get more of a "bite." No soap bar slipperiness.
But simply having a phone with almost no external plastic is the best thing. There were complaints about hairline fractures near the connector opening on 3G and 3GS. Not going to happen with stainless steel.

Wasn't a big fan during the leak but the moment saw it and touched it i was blown away.. Thats was when I opened my PreOrdered box..

I think the new design LOOKS fantastic. I prefer the more professional aesthetic. However, in practice, the sharp corners are kind of uncomfortable when the phone is being held. There is also the constant fear of shattering the glass.

i remember when i said that is definitely the ugliest piece of ..cake on planet..
Now i would eat my 3gs to buy me this beatiful baby .

Love the design in general, but very wary of the materials used to make it. If it had a shiny, hard plastic back I think it would have been better: looks just like the glass back but a more resistant to damage.

Since I always have a case on my iPhone, the glass in the back is largely immaterial. It'll never see the light of day (at least for me).

Much better than the 3G/S. I had a G1 iPhone and like the metal back, even with the plastic chunk at the bottom for the antennae. Had a 3GS after that and, though the curved back was nice, it looked chintzy with the cheap-looking plastic. I understand that this was probably to help with reception but it just looked second class. The iP4 is elegant and classy looking. I would have liked a larger screen and thus a larger phone (I have large hands so the Evo is just about the right size) but I don't diss the phone for its size. It's a solid, lovely piece of electronics.....now if they could release an XL version. :)

So which one of you guys originally thought the phone was ugly after Gizmodo leaked the images? What's that? A lot of you? Haha. Fail.

I applied a bumper to mine instantly, since I don't want stuff dinging the camera when it's sitting on a flat surface. I actually like it a lot, with the bumper. It has a slightly industrial feel that way (black bumper), almost like it's one of those test mule cars that's covered with that black 'car bra' material so you can't see what it really looks like.
I also like flat angular modernist stuff that's still actually useful, so that might explain why I like the new overall style.

I'm tired of people saying that they don't like the design for the reception issue! How many of you would have noticed it was specific to how it's held that if it wasn't a big story (answer: very few but lots of people will say they would have noticed anyway). Not only that but that issue has nothing to do with aesthetic design!

Personally, I prefer the 3G/GS design over the 2G and 4. There's nothing wrong with plastic, except for the screen. Apple definitely went form over function with the 4, and all the drooling over the looks or "art" aspect just reinforces the Apple fanboy stereotype. The 3G/GS design was more practical and functional.

Cardfan obviously has no taste according to your poll. I think it's the best phone I have ever held. I love it compared to the curves of my old 3G. I like curves on women, not phones.

At first, i couldn't believe the leaked photos. I thought it was the worst design. It wasn't very Apple like. And the boxier, the uglier. I alwasy thought Apple's iPhone came from the designs of iPod nanos. Like the rounded and tappered edges. And when the photo was leaked, i called BS on it, and had to do nothing else but to get a 3GS this 2010. (3G/3GS still look much sexier.) Then, when it was final, the iPhone4 had stainless steel, the two glass backs looked more industrial and luxury, and it was more appealing. Love me or Hate me, but i was really concerned on the Apple and iPhone logo on the back. If it wasn't as reflective as the 3GS, i would emmidiately drop the iPhone4 and get me 2009s model. But when i saw the unboxing videos, i thought it looked alright and the same :)
i hate the white though. The back looks nice, but the front was just killed with that proximity sensor.

I personally didn't like the new design when it was leaked onto the net. But after seeing pictures on the Apple website and the official final design, I thought "What the heck I'll try it out". Now, I LOVE IT! I mean the look is so clean and chic. I will say that holding it presented a problem at first (wasn't used to the flat back) but now I love just the feel in my hand and admire it. I have a full case ZAGG shield on it with no case. I know risky, but I don't want to cover a single bit of it's beauty :-).

The design is sleek and attractive to me. What's not attractive about it's sleekness is the seemingly slippery back to the phone in which it slides on nearly every surface. Like from my couch to my floor. About a 2 ft drop with no damage but nerve-wracking, nonetheless.

The iPhone 4 looks so cool. I like the styling a little better than the 3GS. Can't wait until Apple Store ships mine to me July 14th so I can actually hold it in my hand.

Despite being thinner, the squared off sides make the phone feel thicker when it's in my pants pocket. My pants pockets stretched easily over the curved sides of the 3G (with the screen facing my leg). The 3G was invisible in my pocket, the 4 strains against it. Aside from needing a spatula to pick it up, the flat bottom also makes one handed operation more difficult. Without the curved back the phone doesn't "roll" back and forth in your hand like the 3G. I also wish the metal frame extended all the way to the edges of the glass. I feel like it's digging into my hand when I use it. Like I'm gonna get a paper cut or something. That being said, I do like the look and overall solid feel, especially the side buttons.

If only I could have everything the 4 has in the form of a 3G. When I was shopping phones, it was that feel of the 3G in my hand that made the difference. I am getting used to the feel of the 4, but that 3G felt great from the very instant I first held it.

I preferred the unibody Aluminum look in the original iPhone. Had to settle for the 3GS. When my contract expires, I'm hoping the design language of the iPhone 4 sticks around for the iPhone 4G/5/LTE next Summer. I think it is the best of the 3 iPhone designs so far. It is a beautiful piece of engineering and design.

HI. I love the new design in all respects but one: please Jony Ive and team, find something other than glass as it's way too fragile for practical everyday use

I think it's a great design. I love the look of this phone. Now if only they would put out an android version, I might actuall stand in line to get one on those!

I like the design and, if they don't fix the antenna issue within the first 30 days, I'll look forward to enjoying a similar design on the iPhone 4.5 (mid year "oops redesign")

Having the signal issue due to the antenna design is a disappointment. So no I don't like the design.