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iPhone X was five years in the making says Jony Ive

Apple's Chief Design Officer Jony Ive. (Source: India Times)
Apple's Chief Design Officer Jony Ive. (Source: India Times)
Apple's Chief Design Officer Jony Ive has revealed that the iPhone X has been five years in development. The process was particularly painstaking with numerous missteps before it finally emerged as the iPhone X we now know today.

If you have been wondering why Apple has persisted with a very similar design for its flagship iPhone over the past four years, we may now have an answer – according to Apple’s Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive, the Cupertino giant has spent the past five years developing what would become the iPhone X. Those five years were a painstaking experience with numerous prototypes developed and discarded along the way.

Speaking at the New Yorker TechFest on Friday, Ive had this to say:

I mean, the phone we just announced a couple of weeks ago, the iPhone X, that technology is something we'd been working on for five years. And we had prototypes. There's a tendency, and of course there is, and I understand it, with the benefit of hindsight, all of it seems inevitable. But for 99 percent of the time, it didn’t work for us. For the vast majority of the development cycle, all we had were things that failed. By definition, if they didn't fail halfway through, then we’d be done.

It’s not often Apple talks about how long they’ve spent working on a product or what has happened behind the scenes during its development, so Ive’s remarks provide a rare insight into how Apple works. During the launch of the iPhone X, Apple revealed that it has long envisioned a smartphone that was all-display. Now we know how long it has held that particular vision.

Of course, Apple is not the first to market with an all-screen device, but we have known through various leaks it has been developing a bezel-less design for the past 12-18 months. This has been long enough for competitors like Samsung to start working on their own bezel-less designs and get them to market sooner. However, as was revealed recently, Microsoft had a prototype Windows Phone 8.1 Lumia that featured a bezel-less design in 2014. Sharp’s Aquos Crystal was arguably the first such device and it actually made to market in the same year.

With its five year gestation behind it, the iPhone X goes up for pre-order later this month and is expected to go on sale in early November. That is assuming it isn’t facing production glitches as has been rumored.


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Sanjiv Sathiah, 2017-10-11 (Update: 2017-10-11)