By now you’re almost certainly aware that this year’s iPhone 12 lineup has returned to the flat-edged design of the iPhones of yesteryear, but it seems that in its eagerness to adopt the more squared-off design, Apple may have inadvertently introduced a whole new kind of sharpness to its latest iPhone models.
When Apple released its first larger iPhones back in 2014 — the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models — it shifted to a new design that featured more rounded edges, eschewing the flat-edged aluminum band that had been introduced with the iPhone 4, where it doubled as an antenna and continued into the LTE-enabled iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s.
With the exception of the first-generation iPhone SE released in early 2016, Apple’s rounded-edge design continued to adorn all of its devices until the 2018 iPad Pro models saw a return to a more iPhone 5-esque styling, and this year Apple has followed that up with its entire iPhone 12 lineup, which not only bears a strong resemblance to the modern iPad Pros, but of course hearkens back to the classic and much-loved iPhone 5 and 2016 iPhone SE design.
To be clear, even though it’s a throwback, for us it’s a very welcome throwback. The iPhone 4 ushered in a whole new era of iPhone design ten years ago, departing from the plastic iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS that came before into what is still arguably the most elegant and “museum-piece” iPhone design that Apple has ever produced, and even the iPhone 5 — and today’s iPhone 12 models — are merely an echo of that more classic design, with more clearly had the front and rear glass panels sitting above the aluminum frame, rather than being inset and surrounded by it.
So it’s an appropriate homage for the tenth anniversary of that original design for Apple’s current iPhone lineup to make a return to those roots, although assuredly the company’s reasons are at least as much pragmatic as they are aesthetic — like the original iPhone 4, the outer band on the iPhone 12 doubles as an antenna for the new 5G radios, and even then it’s not enough for the mmWave models, which require a special exposed antenna notch to handle the higher 30GHz+ frequencies.
Unfortunately, there may also be a downside to Apple’s choice to move away from curves back into corners, with some new iPhone 12 owners reporting that the new edges are sharp enough to actually cause injuries.
A report shared by Gizchina notes that early Chinese adopters have been complaining of iPhone-inflicted injuries through photos on social networking platforms Weibo and Tieba indicating that the edges of the new 6.1-inch iPhone models are sharp and hard enough that they’re digging into the hands of users, even breaking the skin in some cases.
The problem appears to be affecting users of both the iPhone 12, which uses an aluminum metal band, and the iPhone 12 Pro which opts for stainless steel instead.
Some of those affected have conceded that they may have simply been gripping their new iPhone 12 too tightly out of fear of it slipping out of their hands, while others are saying the flat edges make the new iPhones a lot more difficult to grip.
It’s unclear if any of these folks ever actually used an older iPhone with squared edges, although it’s also fair to say that those models were smaller which may have mitigated the problem somewhat. Of course, putting a case onto your iPhone also avoids the issue entirely, so this sounds like it may be a bit of a tempest in a teapot, and many other Chinese iPhone 12 users are also rushing to Apple’s defense on Weibo, claiming that the problem is being exaggerated.
Chinese site MyDrivers (Google Translate) suggests that some users may be pushing back simply because they don’t like the new design in general, arguing that it’s a needless “difference for the sake of difference.”
The MyDrivers report also suggests that these posts on Weibo are “just jokes” and that the frame of the iPhone 12 has been “processed so that it will not cause such serious damage.”