Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Did Apple build MagSafe so that cases can “stick” to the new iPhones? (twitter.com/nicolasmagand)
56 points by nicolascom 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 71 comments

I don't think this argument is very convincing.

There's still more than enough space between the edge of the phone and the edge of the screen to allow a case to have a slightly overlapping lip. Cases that work this way are better because they give you a new bezel made of rubber above the screen to cushion a fall.

Now, maybe Apple wants to convince people that a case that doesn't actually protect the screen is a good case. It decidedly is not, but I wouldn't put it past them.

Though in a tech trajectory where bezels get smaller and smaller, it makes sense to migrate to a Plan B at some point if not now.

And perhaps it's better sooner than later to let the magnetic accessory market grow and become the new status quo.

The magnet seems nice for other applications beyond bezel though, like snapping to the center of a wireless charger, snapping to your car's holster, helping you realize just how much magnetic dust seems to layer everything, etc.

AKA exactly how the iPhone 5 cases worked?

Screens are much more durable now than when I started getting cases though.

Just because the magnetic properties came up in this thread: I doubt Apple designed it this way, but an ipad pro with their keyboard folio will stick to the metal walls found in your average restroom.

Same with the Smart Cover! I recently just found this out too, I can stick my iPad on the side of the fridge and plug it in and have a nice smart screen for family calendars, Siri / whatever


I'm not proud of that discovery, but it was that or leave my ipad on the table at my local chinese restaurant.

Typing this on my encased S20 Ultra, which makes the iPhones look heavily bezeled: I don't think so.

I hate cases and think they make the phone totally bulky. The strap for the 5th pen iPod touch is what should be on every iPhone. Apple often comes up with good ideas but fails to execute on them properly.

Do people actually drop their phones much while using it? I feel like most of the time you drop it by knocking if off of a table, or dropping it while pulling it out of your pocket, where a wrist strap wouldn't help.

And I think Apple actually is much better at execution than coming up with new ideas. A lot of the things they do (iPad, face ID, notch, airpods, airdrop) are not new ideas, just executed better.

I haven’t had a case on my iPhone X in at least a year. The only damage is a very slight crack in the glass surrounding the camera lens (not the lens itself)

I hate breaking my phone. Cases may not be pretty, but they’re pragmatic.

Also FYI: literally no one cares how your phone looks.

When I had a cute phone[1], I would get random complements, so some people do care.

[1] I got lots of compliments with a blue-green Nextbit Robin, and some, and fewer but still many with a blue Nokia windows phone(well it was black, but in a blue cover), an orange Blu windows phone, and a blue-green Google(LG) Nexus 5x.

Bulk isn’t just about looks, it’s about function. The bulkier the phone (including any case, if using one), the harder it is to hold and use in one hand.

Apple’s announcement of the iPhone mini is a pretty clear indication that they believe there is still a market for smaller phones.

For me rather than use a phone with a case I'd prefer the manufacturer just make the phone larger so it can be handle day to day life without a protective sleeve.

The best materials for protection are soft ones like silicone, plastic or leather. Soft materials wear down, so you wouldn't want them to be built-in to your $1000 phone. Better to have a $2 case you can swap out when it wears down (and it let's people customize their phone to suit their style)

I have AppleCare+ so I don't worry about breaking my phone at all. If it happens I just drop it into the Apple Store and get it back about 2 hours later.

Many Android phones have smaller bezels than iPhone 12 and they don't use magnets. Probably there is enough surface to have enough grip.

The swipe from bottom gesture meant the least annoying iPhone X / 11 cases had the bottom mostly cut out, e.g. the Apple silicon case. Another reason for not covering the edges.

My case has a lip all around the phone, including the bottom, and the swipe gestures work just fine.

Or a reason to make better gestures that don't require swiping from the very edge.

iOS is cryptic enit with all of its arcane gestures that only work within invisible boundaries.

As someone who doesn't use iOS often I have to agree. Changing the brightness on an iPad took me a minute because I had to work out which corner to swipe from. Such poor design.

But they have a clear case with no trace of metal or magnetic material to help it "stick".

The theory isn't very sound...

The new clear cases have a very prominent ring of either metal or magnets present. Not sure what you mean.


Edit: hum, I think that clear case does have magnets in the circular strip?

But the bezels don't look particularly narrow to me... Why would it be harder to make a case for the new iPhones that slightly wraps around the edges, compared to a 2017 Essential phone for instance?

It does. That's what the circular strip is for, like you said.

How did cases for the Galaxy S curved phones manage? The bezels there extended beyond the front onto the sides.

Off topic but I am amazed at the PR generated by apple fanboys in media. I am seeing so many tweets praising apple for removing chargers and other accessories from the box for environment.

Chinese companies have been doing that for years and they actually pass the savings to the consumer.

What makes you so sure these savings weren't passed on to the consumer?

I wouldn't be surprised if the addition of 5G alone ate into those savings, and they kept the prices largely the same in spite of it. At least it seems that way to me, given the fact that many Android phone manufacturers have a considerably more expensive 5G version of their phones.

Exactly. An all but confined Qualcomm X55 Modem, 5G patents, Same iPhone 11 Pro Max OLED ( although likely reduced normal brightness due to yield ), mmWave Antenna included in US version ( That was really a surprise ). Every single one of them cost more than reduction of Charger and Headphone cost.

Apart from the Camera ( Arguably the two sense are even better ) Your $799 iPhone 12 is better than last years's iPhone 11 Pro costing $999.

Because they already increased the price for iphone 12 base model compared to 11.

But not for the Pro or the Pro Max. Also, the iPhone 12 has an OLED screen now, a decidedly much more expensive screen.

To be clear I'm not saying you're wrong, I just don't share your certainty here.

PopSockets undermine this thesis. They stick onto a device without magnets.

More likely the case magnets are there to help magsafe work, not vice versa.

PopSockets are functionally permanent though (by design, and for good reason).

I think cases that depend on an adhesive to stick to the phone are rather unpalatable.

I wonder how hard it is for the iPhone to pop out of the magnetic case if you were to drop it just right.

The more pertinent question, if you step back for a moment, is why the hell are we sacrificing everything for thinner phones and edge-to-edge displays only to then ship them with a more or less mandatory case to stick in.

Though it makes sense for phones to have a cheap shell that you can swap instead of the $1000 device itself taking damage. The alternative is to build insulation and bumpers into the case that you can't swap. I don't think that's better.

I tried to go caseless back when I was 22 and thought anyone would care how pretty my phone was, but it was slippery and accumulated damage for no reason. My next phone, I kept a case on it and when I sold it after a few years, it looked good as new.

I suppose something that's going to live in a case has no real need to be so beautiful. But it's also a luxury consumer good, so "we cut some corners, so it's ugly, but it's in a case anyways amiright?" isn't really the best marketing message. Also, clear cases seem quite popular for those who do want to show it off.

I just don't get what there is to show off. It's a phone. It's not like you built the thing! People are willing to address that these phones are "beautiful", whatever that means, without acknowledging that the differentiation mostly has class and not taste connotations.

Because cases can add functionality or customization that only a subset of users might want. See the "naked robotic core" idea http://5by5.tv/hypercritical/86.

Yeah it always struck me as bizarre - here is a technological marvel, beautifully crafted, polished and shiny, slim and elegant.

But you have to put it in an ugly protective case or it'll be borked inside a year.

You really don't. I haven't used a case on for more than a total of a month in the last ten years. Even with dropping my phone fairly frequently, and sometimes onto concrete from head height, I've only had one phone receive more than minor cosmetic scratches.

Whereas I lose count of the various phones I've cracked. Never had an iphone, but I've destroyed screens on Samsungs, Motorolas, at least one nexus device... Every phone I insisted on using caseless.

Perhaps I'm just clumsy :)

Low quality glass cracks more.

And I've always bought flagships, there's no reason to think the glass was low quality.

I am aware Apple have good glass, but the number of cracked iPhones I've seen inform me they aren't immune from this phenomenon.

I've gone 3 years with no case on my current phone. The screen is still unscratched and not chipped or cracked or anything. The most obvious wear and tear is actually in the paint on the back of the phone that has faded where my fingers normally comfortably position themselves.

You got extremely lucky.

I had an iPhone 6 or 6S Plus for a couple years a while back, and since then I haven’t ever needed to use a case. I just got so used to using my phone with both hands, and two phones later I’ve never needed a repair.

Of course, as soon as I post this, I’m probably going to break it. But the caseless life does exist!

Are you really marveled by your phone after you've had it for a week or so?

I think once the honeymoon gadget phase wears off, most people get over it and then prefer to protect it so that their expensive device lasts longer.

I'd rather get over it and still have the device in my pocket without needing the extra hardware to keep it in one piece.

I tried to go caseless but realized I was constantly thinking about what surface I was putting it on. Is the surface wet at this restaurant? Is it dirty? Is it slippery? Can metal slide on it? If it does inevitably fall, what will happen?

A case solved all this. And frankly I can't even recall seeing someone use their phone without a case, so it seems to be a prevailing issue.

I'm not sure what the alternative is that you seem to be pitching though, if you were.

> I can't even recall seeing someone use their phone without a case

Exactly, they're too fragile to use without some sort of case.

Which really makes the "look how thin and pretty the new device is!" something of a lie. And pointless, who cares if the phone is the thinnest ever, when it's going to live its life in a thick jacket?

I don't want to use a case. I want a phone I can buy for the way it looks and feels and use as-is.

I tried to sneak in this final question to my comment, but what other option is there for a luxury consumer gadget?

You could argue that phones should just be uglier and thicker and more rugged such that they don't need a case, but I don't think it's very palatable for a $1000 handheld to be taking damage directly for most people when the ruggedness can be outsourced to a $20 case. Nor do I think a luxury consumer gadget can see much success by sacrificing on aesthetics.

Building the case into the phone is exactly what my girlfriend's $120 Android does, and it certainly looks like it cost no more than $120 with its rubber bumpers that already look like they've been used as pencil erasers.

If you're arguing that people shouldn't care so much about the shiny marketing, it's not clear how much people do care nor what the appropriate amount of care should be. A good looking product does help you spend $1000 though.

> but what other option is there for a luxury consumer gadget?

To make something that won't fall apart the moment someone looks at it wrong?

To expect if someone sells something on its aesthetics and how compact it is, that those factors won't then both have to be compromised by the aforementioned $20 case?

Clearly you have different expectations of a $1000 device than I do.

I would imagine for a $1000 item, it wouldn't be unreasonable to have a designer try to find a way to be more rugged and still not ugly -- see for example, IBM thinkpads, though they are perhaps the other extreme

I use mine without a case. It has minor cosmetic damage in 3 years with heavy usage.

My OnePlus 7 Pro came with a "recommended" "buffer" in the box. It needs it.

Only because OnePlus design the backs of their phones to be as slippery as possible. Insanely so, even.

Yes it's so smooth. I'm glad I bought the Amber color so I can hide it behind the improved case I bought.

Cases allow personalization, are easy to wash, and frankly plastic feels nicer to hold then metal. Even without edge-to-edge screen, most people are going to add a case around the thing, so you might as well optimize by shrinking the extra borders as much as possible. Are we really sacrificing anything here? That’s an odd choice of word.

What are you saying? If they make thicker phone then case is not needed?

Yeah I don't get his logic at all. I would have purchased a case either way. At least with a thinner phone, the case isn't as unwieldy.

Thinking on this, I don’t remember cases for the original Blackberry or Palm devices. I never cased a flip phone. Or one of my candy bar phones.

Apple gets really excited to say “thinnest iPhone ever” — but then we (or at least I) slap an Otterbox on it because I want the thing to last.

At the end of the day, it’s just for marketing purposes. No one wants to buy a Jitterbug phone. People want to buy sleek and sexy. And then they surround it in rubber bumpers.

It’s really pretty stupid all the way around. I don’t think Apple would sell as many phones if they shipped with a built-in bumper. Even to people like me who require that their pocket computers be protected...

I did managed to crack the screens on both my Palm IIIx and a Nokia N73, so despite their bulky plastic cases, they weren't impervious (since the smartphone era I've also cracked only two screens - iPhone 5S and 11 Pro Max, only the former was caseless)

That perhaps if we weren't focused on thinness above all, perhaps they could be made robust enough to survive without needing a case.

Wouldn’t that be equivalent to a case you can’t remove?

The honest answer to that is - I don't know. I don't know what the big manufacturers are capable of.

That is effectively what "ruggedised" phones look like, I'll agree.

Apparently cases didn’t exist back when the same design was on the iPhone 4/5?!

There was significantly more screen bezel back then, giving cases enough space to curve around and latch onto the front of the device. It would seem the bezels on the iPhone 12 are too small to allow cases to wrap around and grip effectively in the same way as before.


From the Tweet (and also having had those phones): The cases on iPhones 4 and 5 had a lip over the screen, this was not an issue because bezels were large and there were few swipe gestures. However the iPhone 12 cases do not go beyond the screen.

Yep. First time we have BOTH flat sides AND "bezel-less" screens.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact