Jonathan Ive discusses iPhone 4 design

Core77 spoke with Apple Senior Vice-President of Design, Jonathan Ive, about iPhone 4's including the Retina Display, custom stainless steel antenna array, aluminosilicate glass front and back, and even the microSIM tray.

"A big part of the experience of a physical object has to do with the materials. [At Apple] we experiment with and explore materials, processing them, learning about the inherent properties of the material--and the process of transforming it from raw material to finished product; for example, understanding exactly how the processes of machining it or grinding it affect it. That understanding, that preoccupation with the materials and processes, is [very] essential to the way we work."

Ive focuses extensively on the importance of real material in an increasingly virtual world and seems driven by just how far he can take the manufacturing process to achieve his goald. For design aficionados and anyone wanting some insight into the mind behind iPhone 4, check out the link below.

[Core77 via Daring Fireball]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 25 comments. Add yours.

Yanni says:

Hahahaa you said it for me.

bsforever says:

Yeah a glass back that shatters just as frequently as the front glass. SMH

TheDad says:

Hey Jonathan, get a clue. A WORKING phone should be your first priority.

Brendan says:

"[At Apple] we experiment with and explore materials, processing them, learning about the inherent properties of the material"
Except for, you know, electric conduction.

RalphT says:

This article is pure arrogance. I love design, but not when I can't even make a call longer than two minutes. This is like commenting on the beautiful fireplace while the house is burning down.

Forensics Guy says:

I'm sorry that people are having call related issues with their iPhone 4. I have not had such problems, my mother-in-law has.
After her second Genius Bar appt the guy said get a new SIM card from AT&T. Guess what? No more problems for her thus far (call drops/missed calls etc).

jasonact says:

Because of my own research and amateur testing, I'm convinced that the antenna problem is software related, not hardware. The design of the phone is not the problem, as we should see when 4.0.1 is released.
Steve's glib response about "don't hold it that way" only confused the matter before the scope of the problem was really known.

shollomon says:

As much as I like iPhones in general and my iPhone 4 in particular, I think Apple has jumped the shark here in letting designers will all of the battles with the engineers. Getting a product out is always a give and take proposition between sales/marketing, finance,engineering, manufacturing and design. Always. When one team wins too many of the battles you get an unbalanced product, in this case beautiful design that's too fragile and maybe has problems with its antenna.
The failure here is in senior management who have to control those battles, to see each team's point of view and keep the balance.

chris says:

Sucks for you all who can't make calls and have this issue. My iP4 is the business, not one hitch in the giddy up. I feel bad for you all, but at this point its just becoming whiny....no offense.

icebike says:

What is this love affair with Ivy?
He just delivered a phone with a fundamental design flaw, one that can't be fixed by software. Rather then fessing up that he sent apple a design that forced them into antenna jail, he yacks on about "real material", (like there is any other kind).
Meanwhile over at Android Central they point out that Moto is advertising you can hold the Droid X any way you want.http://www.androidcentral.com/motorola-droid-x-hold-it-any-way-you

RalphT says:

Nice comeback, Chris. We whine because we're going public with a product that doesn't even perform its basic function for a lot of us. How about some empathy for our huge frustration instead of some wisea## comment.
Unfortunately this is the only way we feel we can get Apple's attention. Sad.

Lars says:

Lets be real, you are all whining, why i dont know. But if what you said was true and you really couldn't make a call you wouldn't still have the phone. You can't expect us or Jon Ive or steve jobs to believe that your phone loses all reception just by you holding it because if that were true they wouldn't have sold 2 million of them. So lets all take a deep breath, admit that this Antenna issue is being blown up, then move your hand of the antenna and enjoy the best phone on the market with out all these lame complaints.

Fraydog says:

Lars, that's a great testament to this community that they can sell 2 million even with this black cloud hanging over them. I feel like the loyalty and fanboyism is really being tested here. It can only go so far, at some point Apple has to fix defective products. I will probably put on an Invisible Shield because of the scratching and signal issues when I get mine, but the excuses here are crazy. I would prefer for the current Apple fanboys to be a bit demanding.

DT says:

The previous three generations of the iphone were clearly a compromise in the design... you could see the elegance of it but also where compromises had to be made (2G had aluminum but also black plastic, and the 3G was all plastic on the back).
The i4 is an example of what happens when the designers get to make a device with no compromises. You get no reception either.

GrandmaBetty says:

I can't seem to get a signal ANYWHERE!!! Inside, outside, case on, case off! Not a single bar at all! Man, this new iPhone sucks!!
Oh, wait a sec.
I had it in airplane mode. Silly me.

DayumQuitPlayin says:

Lars, you're a dumbass. Watch all the vidz being posted about the reception issue. Read all the forums discussing the problem. There's people who are experiencing problems with their i4 but don't want to depart with their phones. I'm one of them. I'm waiting on an update to see if it fixes the issue. I don't have the luxury of going to an Apple store to exchange for a new one and I'm not going to send my phone and wait days to get another one back. You are truly an idiot. Fanboyism isn't such a good look, especially when it makes you look stupid.

Danny says:

Yeah Lars get off of Steve's nuts. You bought an awesome product...that has a major defect. Stop being in denial

JayRoc#IM says:

My iPhone 4 has been working great no problems

Gnargusto says:

Being an iPhone 4 owner and unfortunately waiting 5 hours in line for it, I can honestly say this phone is a study in form (fashion) over function. I get the degradation of bars when even one of my fingers is over the bottom left corner (thank god I'm left handed?). For the first time in 2 years I've been checking out HTC/Android phones. This really is a disgrace. You could tell me it's a SIM card or software issue. Frankly, I don't care. For the amount of profits that Apple reaps of this phone you would think that the R&D would be tremendous, beyond what anyone would assume necessary. I feel pretty let down to be honest. Missed two important calls from my family yesterday because of the "antennea" problems. Those who haven't experienced these hiccups consider yourselves EXTREMELY lucky. And to anyone who asks, Yes I may return it and actually get an Android based phone if I don't see some progress from Apple.

Lars08 says:

A major defect? Your hand consult the anteenna is not a major defect it's user error. What's the next complaint going to be, "oh when I put my hand over the mic nobody can hear" or if I hold my phone with my finger over the camera I can't take pictures? There is no issue with the reception, I have the iPhone and know over 20 people with the iPhone 4 and none of use can recreate the "issue" or have experienced it. Flawed products don't sell 2 million units. Fanbiyism

Lars08 says:

And no matter how big of an apple fan boy 2 million people are nobody would pay that much money and keep a phone that could not make calls or connect to the Internet. Apple has haters, the iPhone has haters and they have nothing left to complain about the iPhone, so they covered the antenna and fooled dumb people into calling it a "reception issue". And honestly who is the real dumb ass the guy covering his antenna while trying to make phone calls? Or me?

Thomas says:

I don't know how it works in other countries, but (here) in Denmark we have something called the "law of purchase" to protect consumers - when you buy ANY product that doesn't work "straight out of the box", the shop in where you bought it has to 1: Fix it, 2: Give you a new replacement or 3: Give you money back. My guess is, that something similar counts elsewhere(?).
Of cause this procedure is a bit more demanding and time consuming for the costumers than just uploading angry comments, videos and pictures of the product to the internet and then sitting back in the couch waiting (for?).
But if that's the only way to get help, I really can understand the frustration. However, if it REALLY is the only way, I think its remarkable few complaints you can find in relation to the number of sold iPhones. My guess is that the majority of the lucky iPhone 4 owners are too busy enjoying their new phone and doing all the things people do, when they're not trying to get products fixed via the internet.
Looking forward to get my hands on the new iPhone "late July". Maybe I'll be back again then, but my best guess is that I will be too busy;-).