When Apple revealed the 'Force Touch' feature for the iPhone 6S, we mused that it could make the phone a Galaxy S6 killer. The latest iPhone 6S leaks, however, suggest that this feature will impact the phone's design, raising the question of whether Apple is abandoning its design principles to become more of a ‘gadget’ phone like Samsung’s flagships.
This week, Engadget Japan revealed what appeared to be a diagram of the upcoming iPhone 6S, showing the phone to be 0.2 mm thicker than the iPhone 6. This may not sound like much, but take into account Apple's design-focused ethos and the fact that this would make the iPhone 6S the first 'S' iPhone thicker than its non-'S' variant, and it's indicative of a risky shift in the company's thinking.
The reason for the extra girth on the iPhone 6S is not to accommodate a larger battery as you'd expect, but to include the 'Force Touch' feature - which makes the screen pressure-sensitive. If implemented well, this could be a winning feature for the iPhone 6S. If there were even three different degrees of pressure you could apply, then it'd seriously expand the phone's usability - with extra gestures such as 'hard-swiping', or 'soft-tapping'. And just imagine how handy it'd be for improving iffy mobile game controls.
However, if Force Touch works in a similar way to how it does on the Apple Watch (i.e. very basic), then the iPhone 6S could be in trouble.
The Galaxy S6 Edge has a fingerprint sensor, heartrate monitor, IR blaster and Edge display in a 7 mm chassis - 0.1mm thinner than the rumored iPhone 6S width. Of those Galaxy S6 Edge features, the iPhone 6S is only expected to have a fingerprint sensor - and its own Force Touch tech, of course.
If Force Touch is a flop and, as expected, tips the iPhone 6S thickness over that of the S6 Edge, then that will have big implications for Apple's reputation as the world's foremost smartphone designer. Crucially, the added thickness of the iPhone 6S, for the sake of a single throwaway feature, would say to the world that Apple is incapable of doing what Samsung did - making a feature-packed phone without having a negative impact on its design.
While the iPhone has one of the most loyal consumer bases in the world, Apple is pushing the boat out by sacrificing some of its design slickness to throw in a feature that could make tech enthusiasts take note of it, like they currently do of the Galaxy S6 - and particularly the S6 Edge.
If Force Touch turns out to be a revolutionary feature, then no one will pay heed to the extra chubbiness of the iPhone 6S. However, if it turns out to be superfluous, then Apple will have sacrificed its philosophy of sleek, minimal design to play and lose at Samsung's game - which is to impress people with countless gadgety features while maintaining a svelte chassis.
I, for one, hope that Apple pulls it off, and that Force Touch becomes a feature that smartphones aspire to, rather than a failed gimmick.
Do you think Force Touch could become an important smartphone feature of the future, or will Apple’s decision to pile an extra couple of mm onto the iPhone 6S come back to haunt them?