by Jim Lynch

iPhone 7: Apple should steal some hardware ideas from Android

Nov 07, 2015
AndroidComputers and PeripheralsiPhone

Android has some useful hardware lessons to teach Apple for the iPhone 7

The competition between iPhone and Android phones has created a great amount of ill-will between advocates of both platforms. But sometimes our rivals have good ideas that can be emulated and even improved upon, and thus Android might have some useful hardware concepts for Apple to consider for the iPhone 7.

A writer at 9to5Mac recently posted a very interesting article about five hardware lessons Apple could learn from Android, and it I couldn’t resist offering my own take on them after reading it.

But first here’s a snippet from Ben Lovejoy’s excellent post on 9to5Mac:

…while Apple doesn’t blindly copy, it does learn from other companies, and it does so all the time. Indeed, you could say it’s one of the key things that sets Apple apart in the tech world: it doesn’t scrabble to be first to market with new technology. Apple instead sits back and watches, looks at what other companies do and then figures out how to create a better version.

So what are some of the things Android manufacturers have done that I think Apple could usefully learn from … ?


Shatterproof glass

Better speakers

Thinner bezels

Better battery life

More at 9to5Mac

Be sure to click through and read Ben’s entire post. His “heresy” is actually worth considering as we wait for actual news about the iPhone 7’s hardware design from Apple.

iPhone 7 waterproofing

Ben noted in his post that Apple’s latest iPhones had been made water resistant, but that they had a long way to go to match the waterproofing that some Android phones have offered in various models over the years.

I have to admit that waterproofing is one area that I really don’t care about as an iPhone user. I don’t use my iPhone in conditions that might lend themselves to water damage, so it’s never been an issue for me. I haven’t dropped my iPhone into a toilet, bathtub, a pond or the ocean. And there seem to be plenty of water-proof cases available for folks that are worried about it.

On the other hand, I have no objection to Apple taking steps to waterproof the iPhone 7 as long as it doesn’t add additional weight to the phone (and I can’t imagine why it would). Some folks might appreciate it and even need it, so if the iPhone 7 turns out to be waterproof then good for Apple for doing it.

iPhone 7 shatterproof glass

The next thing that Ben mentions is shatterproof glass. And I couldn’t agree more! I would love to have that in the iPhone 7. Why? Well, when I had the iPhone 6 Plus I inadvertently let it slip out of my pocket when I was getting out of my truck. And – as you might have guessed – the screen cracked. Ugh. I was really irritated with myself for doing such a stupid thing.

I know full well that I should have had the iPhone 6 Plus in a case or otherwise protected. But I liked using it without any case or sleeve, so I had just stuck it in my pocket without any additional protection. I’m usually very careful with my phones, but I just didn’t notice it slipping out of my pocket when I opened the door of my truck to step out and a fall onto a rocky driveway was all it took to crack the screen.

So I’d love it if Apple used shatterproof glass in the screen of the iPhone 7. It might have saved my iPhone 6 Plus from getting cracked if there had been some kind of shatterproof glass built into it. Fortunately for me, the glass cracked way down on the bottom left part of the phone. So I could still use my iPhone 6 Plus, but looking at the crack still made me feel like my beautiful phone had been marred by my own stupidity.

iPhone 7 better speakers

Better speakers was another thing that Ben mentioned for the iPhone 7. And he also noted that one model of Android phone had a front facing speaker and also offered BoomSound and Dolby Audio features.

I have mixed feelings about better speakers though since I worry they might cause Apple to keep the current size of the bezel at the bottom, and I’d like to see it shrink (more on that below in the section on bezels). But I would not say no to better sound if Apple can find a way to do it.

I tend to listen to audiobooks a lot on my iPhone 6s. And the sound is certainly acceptable for my needs when I’ve needed to use the iPhone’s speaker. But generally I prefer to use the earbuds that came with my iPhone 6s so using the speaker isn’t something I do frequently.

But I have had occasion to listen to music on my iPhone 6s via its front speaker. And that’s where it stumbles compared to the ear buds. Frankly, music sucks when listened to via the iPhone’s speaker. Oh sure, I could use external speakers but that’s a pain and I can’t be bothered with it.

So if Apple can figure out a way to include better speakers then it could be great for music, and it might even provide better sound for audiobooks too.

iPhone 7 thinner bezels

iphone 7 bezels 9to5Mac

Thinner bezels is one area where Android has the iPhone beat. Apple would do well to slim down the bezels of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Thinners bezels was the next thing Ben mentioned and here’s another thing that I totally agree with him on. I love my iPhone 6s, but I hate the width of it. I’d love to see the bezels on the side mostly go away to make it easier to get my hand around the iPhone 6s. It’s just too wide for me to grip comfortably, unlike the earlier iPhone 5s (which obviously had a smaller screen) which fit perfectly in my hand.

I’d also like to see Apple get rid of the top and bottom bezels in the iPhone 7 as much as possible. Obviously they probably won’t go away completely, but even slicing them in half would go a long way toward making the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus smaller, lighter and easier to hold.

Smaller bezels is one area where Android has the iPhone beat totally. The iPhone’s bezels have remained huge in comparison to some Android models, and the iPhone 7 is a great opportunity for Apple to finally correct this problem.

iPhone 7 better battery life

Battery life was the last thing that Ben mentioned, and he noted that 9to5Mac readers had it as a priority when asked about it by the site. But here I must disagree to a certain extent. While additional battery life would be great, I don’t want it at the expense of a bigger, heavier iPhone 7.

Right now my iPhone 6s has plenty of battery power to get me through a day, with some to spare at the end of the day. So even more battery life would not really matter too much to me, and it would not be appreciated if it increased the weight and size of the iPhone 7.

I understand that for other folks battery life might be an issue. In that case though they might be better off with the Plus model iPhone since it has a much bigger battery than the regular iPhone. When I had a the iPhone 6 Plus, I had plenty of battery life left at the end of each day. In fact, I only needed to charge it every 2nd or even 3rd day.

There’s no shame in stealing some good hardware ideas from Android

I know that the idea of Apple…er…borrowing some ideas from Android might seem terrible, but I don’t see it that way. While I didn’t agree with all of Ben’s suggestions, I do think he is on the right track on some of them and I agree completely that Apple should at least consider some of the hardware features offered by Android.

Let’s face it, folks. Companies are always borrowing ideas from one another. Sometimes it’s software, and sometimes it’s hardware. So if Android has some good hardware ideas then it makes sense for Apple to consider them for the iPhone 7.

After all, you know what they say about imitation being the most sincere form of flattery. Android certainly borrowed some ideas from iOS in terms of its interface when it was first released, so there’s certainly no shame in Apple returning the favor by borrowing some hardware ideas for the iPhone 7.

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