iPhone X: An ugly deception?

Commentary: Apple wants to convince you that its new "smartphone of the future" is all screen. But just look at it.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Oh, no it isn't.

screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

You must be quite tense. 

There's less than a week to go before you must decide whether to part with $999 -- or even $1,149 for the 256 GB version -- in order to secure an iPhone X. (Preorders start next Friday.)

Is it, as Apple insists, the "smartphone of the future"? Or is it just another iPhone that's flattering to deceive?

Let's talk about the deception part, because it's been disturbing me for some weeks now. 

Apple is marketing iPhone X on its site with these simple words: "It's all screen."

It's short. It's memorable. Indeed, I have only one problem with it. Look, I don't want to be picky, but the iPhone X isn't all screen. 

Look even for a moment and you'll see there's an ugly black blob at the top of the screen. 

It's there to house the TrueDepth camera, which will determine whether you are who you look like you are via FaceID.

"It offends me. It's ungainly and unnatural," influential Apple commentator John Gruber mused of the so-called notch.

"I think Jony Ive either lost a bet or lost his mind. It looks silly, and to pretend otherwise is nonsense," he added.

The marketing, however, tries to turn the nonsense into magical truth. 

Recently, Ken Segall -- who spent 12 years creating ads for Steve Jobs' Apple and NeXT -- offered that Apple's advertising had always been "intelligent and accurate." 

Oh, I don't know about that. Remember the "Genius" ads that suggested Apple's employees would be only too happy to help you if you turned up at their apartment? I suspect that wasn't accurate. (And Apple tried to excise the ads from the web.)

And remember when Apple placed the MacBook Pro at the pinnacle of great ideas?

I'm not sure the most recent promise of "Practically Magic" is all too near the truth either, given that the words were first said about the rather prosaic iPhone 7. 

Still, Segall is similarly perturbed by the all-screen idea. He sees it as Apple "playing loose with words and images."

"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,'" he said.

Yes, the notch that only seems less prominent when you have a picture on the screen that happens to have a black area at the top.

Does Cupertino believe it can inject the All-Screen thought into human minds and expect people to buy it over the evidence of their own eyes? 

Did no one, for a moment, stop to wonder whether there might be other, less inaccurate formulations?

And what if, one day, Apple releases a notchless phone? Will Apple simply not mention the screen? Or will it go for "Notchless. Matchless."?

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

I do, though, have a depressing thought. No, not the one that says, "this is just advertising and no one expects it to be accurate."

Look around. We live in an era in which so much of what we hear is, if I may borrow the phrase the president invented, fake news. 

What's a little exaggeration when faced with the blatant nonsense that's peddled at us every day? 

Look at my picture. I'm all handsome. Wouldn't you agree?