The consensus view of Apple’s newly launched hunchback iPhone battery case is that it should ideally be hidden from human view, spending its life in isolation ringing bells in Notre Dame.
Immediately upon release, the Internet filled with loud, angry protesters saying this kind of thing would never have happened in Steve Jobs’ day (and accusing Jony Ive of snoozing on the job). While I’m definitely no fan of Apple’s $99 Smart Battery Case, this isn’t the first time the company has released a less-than-stellar piece of design work amidst its usually gorgeous offerings.
Check out the list below for five of the worst pieces of design to come out of Cupertino since … well, yesterday, actually.
Won’t someone think of the cables?
A cable may not seem the showiest bit of Apple design, but the company’s Lightning to USB cables are repeatedly Apple’s worst reviewed items — by its own fans. Common criticisms include the fact that they continually fray or break, often after mere months of use. Just as bad is the MagSafe Power Adapter for the old MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro.
When you take into account the less-than-disposable price Apple charges for its cables, this becomes even less excusable. Not good, Apple. Not good at all.
The infamous “hockey puck” mouse
The original iMac wasn’t the product that turned Apple’s fortunes around upon Steve Jobs’ return (that would be the iPod), but it was the machine that helped announce Apple’s intentions. And, more importantly, it publicly unveiled the talents of Jony Ive to the world, now freed of his former restraints.
But while everyone over the age of 20 likely has fond memories of Apple’s strikingly colorful first-gen iMac, there can’t be too many people who miss its awful “hockey puck” mouse, one of the most infamous pieces of bad design in Apple’s history. Jobs loved it. Ive presumably did so too. Everyone else thought it looked like a yo-yo and despaired the two years they spent being forced to work with it.
iPod Hi-Fi was less than fly
Given that Apple was all about music in the mid-2000s, it made perfect sense that the company would release its own iPod Hi-Fi, which is exactly what it did in March 2006. Jobs sold it as a system fit for “audiophiles,” with no shortage of promises that it would “redefine” the home stereo system as we knew it.
In reality, it was overly expensive compared to rival products like Bose’s SoundDock. There was also a lack of an AM/FM radio (and people didn’t even have the option of listening to Beats 1 at this stage!). Plus, the remote control it came packaged with was pretty awful, the sound was loud but disappointing, and the iPod was in a vulnerable location — secured to the dock only via the 30-pin dock connector.
Apple discontinued the iPod Hi-Fi the following year, and even pointed would-be buyers to the “hundreds of [other third-party] speakers systems designed specifically for the iPod, which provide customers with a wide variety of options.” That’s the Apple version of eating crow.
The theory people would love this iPhone case was full of holes
With all the reports of a new iPhone “c” model just around the corner, we hope Apple doesn’t repeat the offense of its dreadful official iPhone 5c case, which conspired to bring polka dots to your handset because … hey, that’s what kids want these days, isn’t it?
On top of the questionable design, the really weird thing about the official iPhone 5c case was that the colors actually appeared strangely muted — as if Apple couldn’t entirely embrace its own colorful iPhone ethos. The fact that it was less than durable was the final nail in the coffin.
Dishononorable mention: What’s in a bag?
This one might be a personal pet peeve of mine — and it’s not really an accessory, so to speak — but I’ll be darned if the cord-tied plastic bags Apple hands out at the Apple Store aren’t some of the surprisingly worst pieces of design I’ve seen from Apple.
If you’ve got a larger bag for, say, a MacBook, the poor design becomes even more apparent — the cords don’t easily fit over your shoulder and therefore can’t be carried with particular ease. I’ll fully accept being taken to task in the comments for nitpicking, but considering that Apple obsesses so much over every other detail of its packaging that the company has hand-painted box elements to ensure maximum quality, this seems a massive oversight.
The Apple Watch bags? Those are more like it.