For the first time in years, the most exciting new iPhone model will not be the most expensive. In fact, Apple AAPL +0.05% will roll back generations of price increases with a stunningly affordable ‘budget iPhone X’. But new information has revealed one aspect of this phone which is too good to be true…
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Mac Otakara, a site famed for breaking the news Apple would controversially remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, has managed to attain dummy units of all three 2018 iPhones. And when lined up, the 6.1-inch budget iPhone suddenly looks a lot less appealing. Look closely (a video can be found below).
Yes, the much praised ‘bezel-less’ design of the iPhone X (middle) and the massive 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus (right) will not carry over to the cheaper design (left).
Instead, the model (which I suspect will simply be called ‘iPhone’ like the entry level ‘iPad’), has uniformly thick bezels. This looks particularly odd on the sides of the device and makes it look like it’s in a case. In fact, putting a case on this model is going to make it look even worse.
Why would Apple produce such a chunky version of its already iconic design? It all comes down to the use of a cost-saving LCD panel.
On the more expensive 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch models (which Mac Otakara measures as 6-inches and 6.4-inches as there’s likely confusion over whether to include the curved corners of the display), they use OLED. These flexible panels can bend around the bottom of the display so the chunky display connector which normally hides a thicker bottom bezel (aka ‘chin’) can be moved on the back of the device. This is expensive to do and why even OLED-based Android rivals haven’t copied this technology (learn more about this here).
By contrast, LCD panels can’t withstand such extreme bending so the connector has to be kept at the bottom edge creating the chin. Apple, in wanting to retain the same consistent bezel design as the more expensive models, has therefore opted to put a thick bezel on all four sides of the phone creating something which looks more like a toy version of the other models.
If there’s a positive to this move, I suspect these thick bezels will make the budget iPhone X resistant to drops. So maybe you won’t need a case after all.
Furthermore, it’s impossible to ignore the biggest news about the budget iPhone: its jaw-dropping price. And I suspect the prospect of saving up to $400 versus the iPhone X Plus, means many will stomach the bigger bezels even if they do make the cheaper model easily identifiable…