Designers Are Mad at Apple’s Dynamic Island and Here’s Why

Apple, the best fruit of your basket, and one of the biggest tech companies in the world right now are famous for its innovation in design, product lineup, and marketing strategies. Customers love Apple products as they leave no stone unturned in areas such as software, hardware, design, and technology.

Starting in 1976, Apple has now become a giant in the tech space with a record-breaking $3 Trillion market cap.

Apple is a game-changing company, and each year they release with a top-tier process their new products lineup. Something similar happened recently when they released their newest range of smartphones, smartwatches, and wireless earphones.

One device in particular out of this collection gathered a LOT of attention because of a new feature called ‘Dynamic Island’. And ever since there has been a lot of conversation and debate about this innovation, since it seems to break a few concepts behind good, functional UX design. 

But First, What Is Dynamic Island?

Apple iPhone Dynamic Island GIF
Image: Apple Newsroom

Modern smartphones have a problem. The problem of screen real estate and none has been able to quite crack the code with a clean approach to solving notches on a smartphone. Android devices have had their share of notches and punch holes for a while now. Apple introduced their rather thicker notch-styled devices in 2017. And some others went as far as having motorized pop-up cameras to solve the seamless screen experience problem.

On the other side, there have been a few gimmicky under-the-display hidden cameras that leverage the switch state of pixels between the screen and camera. Hint: It didn’t work out, people didn’t quite like it. 

Apple’s Dynamic Island, offered with iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, is a pill-shaped, black-colored UI element around the front-facing camera and sensors system. It has a bunch of animations and a long-press gesture to activate and interact with use cases such as battery life, Airdrop progress, and live widgets.

A lot of people are excited about it because of Apple’s approach. They didn’t go the regular punch-hole route unlike Android but took advantage of adding UI elements to provide additional multitasking and alerts through the pill area.

But not everyone’s happy, and a lot of these unhappy people are designers. 

Reasons Why Some Designers Are Mad at It

Difficult to reach the Dynamic Island

Thumb zones on the new iPhone 14 Pro 2022

The dynamic island on the pro iPhones is difficult to reach because of a UX design term called thumb zones. Steve Hoober, the author of Designing for Touch, shares insight and information about how users hold their smartphones. 

In his extensive study, he found out that there’s a large specific area of the touchscreen that a user can easily interact with using their thumbs. However, the dynamic island falls right into the ‘Red Zone’ of this concept.

iPhone 14 Pro has a 6.1-inch display and the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch display. For people with even larger hands, it’s a bit of unease to reach the Dynamic Island area with your thumb all while gripping your phone as you should.

Let’s not talk about people with smaller hands, you were doomed already. 

The Smudged Front Cam

Apple did a well-done job of hiding the front-facing camera with the use of this new black, interactive pill. Maybe a little TOO well. The pill hides the camera so you may unknowingly be touching the camera while trying to interact with the Dynamic Island. 

You’ll end up leaving smudges and fingerprints all over your front-facing camera.

Since Dynamic Island is a feature that requires more attention and interaction, it’s highly likely that you’ll keep yourself from dirtying your front camera. Quick solution? Wipe the screen on your shirt. 

Finger Travel Accident

Having said the previous reasons why designers are mad, the next one hurts more than just the design or practicality of your new iPhone. The truth is that people are crazy about Apple products and they will sell these devices millions in numbers.


People drop their phones for many reasons. And this new dynamic island could be an addition to the list.

How? Well, to access the upper region of your screen, you’ll need super long thumbs. And since you don’t have those, you’ll need to readjust your grip on the phone to reach the dynamic island. This could result in losing the grip, dropping the phone, and shattering that shiny 2000-nit display.

Just when Apple had moved the search bar for their browser, Safari, to the bottom, this new pill is here to haunt us.

Conclusion

Apple has brought something very refreshing to the world of good old punch-hole experience. It’s also just Apple’s way of breaking the stereotype after creating it in the first place. Does that become a problem? Does it hurt anyone? Maybe not. If you think about it, there was probably no need for the pill on the new iPhones. It’s not adding a LOT of functionality.

Anyway, it’s not worse than the notch. And maybe they improve this design down the line… in the next 5 years. Until then, enjoy your new iPhone experience on an island. The rescue may or may not be on its way.

Confetti Design Studio is an award winning creative design firm based in India. We work with companies around the world by providing them premium design solutions ranging from product design, web design & graphic design. Contact us right now so we can get started on your amazing idea and project.

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