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Is the iPhone 4 design too macho?

Is the iPhone 4 design too macho?

Think back to the early 2000s. Reality TV was already starting to jellify our brains and the dot.com boom was about to turn dot.com bust. But it wasn’t all bad. At least, not if you cared about design.

It was also a time when Apple’s charmed us with the original range of multi-coloured iMacs. With vibrant hues and welcoming curves, they were objects of desire for design doyennes everywhere. And they were a massive hit with women too.

imac bondi blue

Can you say the same for the iPhone 4? Not so much. At least, not if our informal office poll is anything to go by.

The boys at Top10.com are very much in the pro camp, with the ‘Y’ chromosome-packing half of the office proclaiming the handset ‘awesome’ and showering paeans of praise on its tougher build quality. But the ladies weren’t anything like as sold. They variously termed it “clunky” and bemoaned a distinct lack of shiny-ness.

For the record, I love the iPhone 4’s look and feel. In fact, nary a goes by when I don’t admire mine. But it’s not hard to see where our girl contingent are coming from.

Compared to earlier iterations, where sleekness and rounded edges were the order of the day, the latest Apple smartphone features a sharper and more metallic look. So it’s easy to see how folk might perceive that the friendly touch that once marked out Apple has left the building.

That perception might be even harder to shake if they’d viewed the iPhone 4 intro video. The parade of speakers from Apple is just one sober-shirted forty-something gentleman after another. So much so, in fact, that it’d be easy to come away with the impression that the handset has been designed solely by middle-aged American dads for middle-aged American dads.

And if you were of that mind, signs that the desire to appeal to that very demographic informed the iPhone 4’s aesthetics are apparent elsewhere as well. Not least in the marketing talk of the screen being more robust than helicopter windshields. Much is made too of the equally hard-wearing “machined stainless steel” used for the band that rings the handset. At times, the toughness of the handset is talked up so much it’s almost as though Apple’s design team are selling us a JCB tough phone for burly construction workers.

iphone 4 slant back

Just as telling is the clip’s soundtrack. Previous Apple spots have favoured glossy, fun pop – stand up Gorillaz and Ting Tings. But here there’s just a gutsy, raw guitar riff-led track of indeterminate origin.

It’s the kind of music that’d feature on a Father’s Day compilation CD, with a name like Dad Anthems or Driving Rock. If Apple is indeed targeting the Clarkson demographic at the expense of women, it’s going the right way about it.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know by taking our poll in the right-hand sidebar. Or you can really tell us how you feel in the comments section below.

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