Oct 17

Stretching the truth with iPhone X


Since the dawn of time, advertisers have stretched, exaggerated and mutilated the truth to get consumers’ attention.

Hey, that’s life. It’s also why advertising is a consistent bottom-dweller in every “most respected profession” survey.

But there is hope for mankind.

Some companies have a refreshingly strong sense of advertising ethics. They believe that their products are so good, an honest portrayal is the most effective advertising tool.

Apple has always been one of those companies. That’s one reason I was so attracted to it when I was a baby copywriter.

Apple advertising was always creative and fun, but it was also intelligent and accurate. That’s what made it the industry’s “gold standard” for marketing.

That’s why it makes me nervous when I see today’s Apple playing loose with words and images to sell a product.

Case in point: the “all-screen” iPhone X.

Exactly who is edge-to-edgier?

Of course we can see with our own eyes that iPhone X is not all-screen. It has a noticeable edge around the entire display, which even the Samsung S8 does not have. And then there is “the notch” — the object of many a critic’s venom.

For the moment, let’s assume you’ve convinced yourself that you really do have an all-screen phone. Now it’s just a question of execution. Your marketing will drive that point home, right?


See Exhibit A at the top of this article. On the iPhone X web page, this is the very first panel a visitor sees.

“It’s all screen,” says the headline. Yet, astonishingly, the image focuses almost entirely on the only two parts of the phone that are not screen—the visible edge and the notch.

Kind of amazing, actually. Especially for Apple. In the past, it’s been so very good at shining a powerful light on its products’ best features. Here, that light seems so badly aimed.

The all-screen claim is fragile enough by itself. The last thing it needs is to be undone by its own marketing.

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  • So annoying to see Apple saying this during the presentation and afterwards in their marketing. Even more annoying is watching the Mac and Tech Media parrot it uncritically.

  • Can’t wait to snag one

  • This September was a big let down as far as Apple goes for me. I’ve always looked up to Apple as a company that holds to design principles and values and sticks by them come what may (as a general rule).

    But to see the company that arguably pioneered consistency in user interfaces fragmenting their OSs so much in iOS 11 and then to see them on top of that start ditching things like one handed usability on the iPhone X after spending time almost every year saying how important it was to them as a company to make sure you could reach the entire screen with your thumb… It’s just sad. It feels like the old company that I respected so much is slowly slipping away.

  • Jimmy Gunawan

    I like the iPhone X embracing function over beauty first, comparing to edge to edge whatever Samsung showing off there. Ugly or beauty is in the eyes of beholder. That notch resembles 8 mm film anyway.

  • G.

    They show a Pink iPhone on a Pink background front and center. It’s a Pink on Pink combination Ken – that’s all. Doesn’t exactly scream love or sexy to me. It’s the least daring and risk taking combination possible, kind of symbolic, the reason they missed your “all screen” correction is because they don’t really believe in the idea of it, it’s seen as marketing for the sake of marketing, a design gimmick with a catchphrase so all is allowed in that corrupted marketing view, any mismatch is game. If they believed in the idea of all screen, truly, then there would be no notch, but there is a notch. Motives matter, if they’re corrupted compromises will be made through and through and it’ll all bleed.

  • Pingback: Michael Tsai - Blog - iPhone X Design and the Notch()

  • fud

    I realize your post is about Apple marketing.

    But on a side note, is there an advantage to having the screen wrap around the edge [I need to take a closer look at S8]? Can you put a case on it? Do edge gestures work? Can the screen be replaced easily [replaced in store like Apple does]? Can it be disassembled for recycling?

    Looking forward to seeing iPhone X.

  • I have no experience with screens that wrap around the side. They are certainly “edge to edge” (at least on the sides). Interesting question though about how cases and gestures work. Maybe someone else can answer that.

  • sfjohn

    “It’s all screen” – with the pictures and bezels the focus of the picture, doesn’t bother me. One could read it’s all screen as the front, back, and sides being all screen… no phone does that yet. When I think of Apple advertising, in general they are great at communicating the look and feel. Yes there is a bezel. Yes there is a notch. But for me I can imagine it will feel like it’s all screen, especially compared to previous iPhones. But please do rant about it. I’d like as little competition at 12:01 AM on the 27th ;)


    THANKS !