Two industrial design students rate Apple’s latest technological wonder

Is the iPhone worth the hype?

On January 9, Apple launched its latest invention, the iPhone. This new device combines three products—a mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and an Internet communications device (with desktop-class email, web browsing, maps and searching)—into one small, lightweight hand-held device.

Carleton Now wanted to know whether this new product measured up to all the buzz about it.

We asked Jenna Stephens-Wells and Colin Finkle, two fourth-year industrial design students, to give the iPhone the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” on four key criteria: functionality, aesthetic appeal, emotional impact and sustainability.

Will the iPhone be helpful?

Jenna says: Neutral

There is a risk the iPhone could be the “jack of all trades but master of none.” But Apple’s past success would suggest that current iPod users could easily adapt to and enjoy the iPhone, especially if they need the additional features.

Colin says: Thumbs up

The iPhone lets you have a phone, computer, music player and camera within arm’s reach. Keeping it handy would allow people to make better use of these various functions, as they are readily available when needed.

Does the iPhone look good?

Colin says: Thumbs down

The Apple styling has gone so far that the product isn’t recognizable as a phone anymore. It would seem that, by feel alone, it’s impossible to tell which side is up.

Jenna says: Thumbs up

If the iPod’s sleek, sexy design won your heart the first time around, then you’re sure to be drawn to the iPhone’s clean surface and product styling.

It fits right in with the existing Apple product line.

Does the iPhone tug at the heartstrings?

Jenna says: Neutral

The iPhone will be a natural replacement for your cherished iPod and allow you to avoid the nakedness of being without it. But with the iPhone, where do you draw the line between work and play? Your favourite accessory now accomplishes work-related tasks from which you might actually want to escape.

Colin says: Thumbs up

The friendly looking interface invites people to keep in touch and listen to their favourite songs anywhere.

People will value their iPhone like they do a close friend.

Is the iPhone socially and/or environmentally friendly?

Colin says: Thumbs down

People already use cellphones and music players to cocoon themselves away from others. With the functions combined, it will be even easier for people to ignore the world around them and, as a result, become even more anti-social than they already are.

Jenna says: Thumbs down

The iPhone has become a must-have product before it has even been released, but it will likely be replacing working products that will end up in the landfill, along with other iPods and iPhones whose rechargeable batteries are not designed to be replaced.

Is this device worth all the attention it is getting?

Jenna says: Thumbs up

By all means, check out the iPhone. It’s a great example of advances in technology and it showcases the Apple design.

But you have to decide if it’s right for you. Added features may be unnecessary, so why opt for the complexity and higher cost?

Colin says: Neutral

There is no doubt that the iPhone is an interesting and appealing product. At the same time, Cingular will have a monopoly as the sole service provider; fans must be willing to pay to get their hands on the latest Apple design.

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