Thanks for ruining my life, iPhone 5
30th Aug 2013 | 13:53
The dawn of the finger penis
My main beef with the iPhone 5's headphone jack placement can be summed up in two words: finger penis.
But we'll come back to that.
There's one thing you really need to be able to do with a phone and that is hold it. Doesn't matter how many wireless peripherals or voice-activated virtual assistants the thing comes with, you're still going to spend a lot of time with the handset in your paw.
When the iPhone was first announced, certain people said disparagingly, "Oh right, so it's what? An iPod that makes phone calls?". Well, yeah - except for me the most excellent thing about the iPhone (and, yeah, ok, smartphones in general) is that it's an iPod that can send text messages and go on Twitter.
I don't know about you, but if I'm walking somewhere, I'm listening to music on my phone. If I'm on the train, I'm listening to music on my phone. If I'm in bed and my neighbours are being raucous at 1.30am in the morning, I'm British so I'm not knocking on their door telling them to keep it down or I'll call the feds, I'm listening to music on my phone to help me reach Sleepy-time Central.
So we're agreed: one of the great joys of a smartphone is being able to listen to whatever you feel like wherever you are while simultaneously texting whoever you fancy. Good. I'm glad we're all on the same page here.
That's why Apple went some way to completely ruining the iPhone when it moved the headphone jack to the bottom of the handset.
When Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 to the world, it made some passing reference to the fact that having the headphone jack on the bottom panel makes life better for people who keep their iPhones in their pockets because when you get your phone out of your pocket, it'll be the right way up.
Let's put aside the fact that it makes no difference whether your headphones are poking out of the top or the bottom of your handset when your phone is in your pocket and address the fact that not everyone keeps their phones in their pockets. Not everyone has pockets, Apple. Some of us have handbags.
And anyway, who cares about that one second of minor convenience? That warm fuzzy feeling you've provided is instantly destroyed as I awkwardly wind my fingers around the dirty great headphone connector that is now in my way.
Let's talk about the butter-fingers-factor. This is an essential consideration when it comes to any piece of expensive technology that you use more than three times a day. The iPhone 5 is an even slippier customer than most.
Shiny glass and smooth aluminium chassis aside, because Apple elongated the body to accommodate the longer screen, the weighting is slightly off (I think 'they' call it 'top-heavy'). This leads to constant anxiety that you'll just give up on your grip for no apparent reason and watch as one of the most expensive things you own shatters on the floor.
Guess what doesn't make an already weirdly weighted, anxiety-laden drop-friendly handset any easier to get a grip on? If you answered "a dirty great wire sticking out of the exact bit of the phone you want to hold" then congratulations, you are correct.
And that brings us back to my original issue. It doesn't matter how many impressive feats of knot disentanglement I pull off or how rarely I drop my phone, there is no getting away from the finger penis.
When you have headphones plugged into the iPhone 5 and you want to check a map or say something pithy about Miley Cyrus on Twitter, there is nowhere for your pinky to go.
On the iPhone 4, the phone could easily rest along the length of your littlest digit. Oh that was great - good times, guys, good times. Not only did it add stability and grip, it was comfortable and didn't look weird.
Now, your little finger is forced to stick awkwardly out towards you like, well, a finger penis.
So thanks for that, Apple. Thanks a lot.